Wednesday, November 20, 2019



“If the good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.”

“Watcha gonna do when the well runs dry?”

“Who'll stop the rain?”


      Mae West, and I, have said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!” I was thinking of chocolate, among other things, and will still defend the quote.

      Free water, falling from the skies, is so necessary for life above the oceans that it's prayed to and mythologized. Its comings and goings control man: civilizations such as the Babylonians, Mayans and Anasazi; subgroups such as the people from the lower plains who invaded California in the 30's; the exodus from New Orleans in 2005, Houston in 2017, and the California fires. All because the rains don't behave. Mae West didn't behave either, but she didn't result in much devastation.

      People have been paid to bring rain: Witch doctors, psychics, con-men with secret machines, scientists spraying silver iodide, people who step on ants. Militaries have studied weather control for their own ends.

      As of this writing, people still die in floods, crops rot in the fields, and drought ensures fires. No one demonstrates control.

Which brings me to rain-making solutions that are well known, underused and you should try: washing your car, watering your lawn and garden, planning an outdoor wedding, buying expensive tickets to a baseball game, losing part of your roof to any one of a thousand threats, and leaving your convertible top down for the night. I don't have a convertible, so I drag my hoses and body parts around the front and back yard in mosquito-infested humidity. My desires for a huge garden were bigger than my anti-mosquito capabilities, forcing a downsize.

      The Mid-Atlantic climate gives my garden enough rain each year. Unfortunately, the distribution of the rain allows heat, deluge, and drought, all of which can kill. I'm not able to water the garden enough to save everything, including the small plants with inadequate roots. The planting distribution needs to be compacted. Fewer plants in less space. I've talked before about the difficulty of giving away more plants each year than I get, but that is hard. Most of what I have now I want to keep.

      When I began writing this a couple of years ago, we'd just completed a record sequence of days of drought, followed by a record sequence of days of rain. For my land, any summer rain is welcome, but the drought period cost me 1½ Japanese Maples and a nice, large Glenn Dale azalea, though I tried to keep everything watered.

      Returning to this essay now, I'll add that recent floods killed ten azaleas this late winter and spring. Those areas will be rebuilt with more dirt and increased drainage. Root damage due to the flooding (azaleas aren't pond plants) makes the survival of some others problematical.

      One solution to the summer droughts is to stock up on spring ephemerals that look great in April and May, then collapse in the summer's heat. But no, their garden palette is too limited.

      Another solution is to buy watering systems that turn on and off with the flick of a wrist, covering the whole yard. Not for me. I need the money for old age medical bills. And food.

      Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, severe droughts, blizzards, and haboobs are all extreme forms of weather that man, as a species, if not specific individuals, has survived. Far from the equator, people surround themselves with clothing and buildings. My garden doesn't wear clothes and is not “inside.” Will it last until the next rain? Similar to child rearing, it's a struggle with an uncertain outcome, but the rewards for success are enormous!

      I do have a perfect solution to the problems above but I've run out of space to tell you about it on this sheet, and I've got to go out now and move the hoses


  1. Nice...Fermat's Last Blog Post. I suspect you used your poetic licence to get away with 'problematical.' I have nothing to say about haboob, habib.

  2. Barney's Last Blog Post? How apocalyptic ... hope it's not true ... my next will cover 'Snow' and I hope I'm around to publish it ... I've got to stay off the interstates!