It’s been another draggy week for me. Wait, what? It’s only Monday! Ah, but you must understand that my week starts on Friday. That’s when Miss Chef is off work, and we start thinking about Saturday—which is kind of like my Monday, since we spend at least half the day at different farmers markets, and I milk that important professional network of growers, chefs and other local food stars.
Anyway, as I look back on the past four or five days, I remember mostly a lack of inspiration. I did enjoy the excitement of my first major print article published in a local paper’s glossy annual dining guide, but I soon lost steam. I got halfway through writing another 1,000 word article, and couldn’t force myself to sit down and finish the job. I couldn’t even make myself listen to the second interview I’d recorded for the story.
Even worse, as the weekend approached, I was wracking my brain for a topic for the next week’s paid blog post, and coming up empty. For some reason I haven’t been sleeping well at all, and every of the dozen times I’d wake at night, I’d immediately start worrying about that missing story topic. This interrupted sleep leaves me tired, which kills my creative talents, forming a vicious cycle of “duh.”
I still blame my summer doldrums. The symptoms are clearer than ever. Finally, I’ve lost interest in my garden. For weeks, with highs consistently in the 90s and not a rain cloud in sight, I was going out every morning to fill up my watering can at the rain barrel and keep my plants alive. In anticipation of the switchover to fall planting, I had pulled out the last trellis, replanted onion seeds, and weeded out the large flower bed in front of the house. But I never got around to seeding carrots in the newly opened space, and only about three onions germinated this time around—still too hot. The broccoli has been holding its own, but I swear the three little brussels sprout seedlings have actually shrunk in size, in spite of my aqueous diligence.
The 40-gallon rain barrel in back finally ran dry, and I had to switch to the one in front of the house (well-concealed by a convenient holly bush, one of the best landscaping decisions I’ve made here). We had one small rain shower that about half-filled the empty barrel, but still nothing approaching the inches we need.
Oh, sure, there’s been rain in the area. Uptown Charlotte got 3 inches the other day, and there have been flash flood warnings all over the tv. When it did rain here, we got less than half an inch. All of the rainstorms coming from the west seem to split, and we can watch the lightning and thunder blow by north of us, precipitating all over our neighbors. Hmph.
I finally learned why that is, from a local farmer. It was during a special lunch Miss Chef hosted at the school’s restaurant she’s running this quarter. She invited the farmers and other purveyors who supply the food to sit down and dine with the students who prepare and serve that food. I attended in the guise of journalist, so I could write a story for the food blog (which you can see here, along with another of my artsy little photographs.)
Of course, the pre-meal chat started out with the weather, and Mindy, whose farm is about five miles south of us, explained that it’s Lake Wylie to the west of us that splits the weather. She too is within that dry area, but since she grows hydroponically, it’s less of a concern than it would be for a traditional dirt farmer.
Contrary to form, Miss Chef has actually been more interested in gardening lately than I have been. She took it upon herself to make a compost screen from scrap wood and hardware cloth, and got a good bit of really nice compost out of our tumbler. I had her put it on two of our raised beds, and then I covered it with the last of my leaf mulch from last year. Already I can tell the difference—the compost has made the most of what little rain we’ve had, staying moist for several days under the mulch, even in full, hot sun.
Today we’ve finally had a brief respite from the weather, with a thick ceiling of gray clouds, and temperatures around 70 degrees. I’ve had the windows open all through the house, and Rosie has spent most of the day dozing on the cool brick patio.
It’s been a very quiet day, with both the pets sleeping hard and me alternating between staring at the computer and looking hopefully out the window for rain that has yet to materialize. But I did finally get that 1,000-word story wrapped up, and came up with an idea to pitch for this week’s blog. And when I finally dragged myself outside to water the still-drooping peppers, I found that over the past couple of days, we’d finally gotten enough drizzle to completely refill the back water barrel.
While I usually spend cloudy days in a half-stupor, it looks like this hiatus from the heat has been, literally, a breath of fresh air. I’m not counting my doldrums as over, but I’ll take whatever I can get.