Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Last week, Lileks wrote this about the weather:

Oh, it’s cold. It’s cold in the morning when we wake, because I turn the heat down to avoid getting bills with commas in the balance due. It’s cold in the afternoon when I come back to the house. It’s briefly stifling in the early evening when the house gathers all the heat and gives everyone the Requisite Toasty Feeling, then it’s cold when I go downstairs to watch some TV after midnight. It’s just cold. Dark, and cold. The sun slinks down like it made a mess on the rug and doesn’t want anyone to notice; the wind is all beaks and claws, and the thin snow on the lawn reminds you that there’s more to come, and it’ll be here a while, and die hard. Even the raw scrape of March seems tropical from here.

"Beaks and claws" -I love it. I mean, is there anyone who's ever been in a dry, biting cold who doesn't know what he's talking about? He mentions the weather and writes about it at least a couple times a week, and I've always been impressed by how he keeps it interesting, new, and fresh -without sounding utterly redundant. I thought about trying some daily writing about the weather for a time, as an excercise, but then I realized that Lileks had the advantage of living someplace that actually has weather. I'm not sure my skill sets are up to the creative challenge of making "72 and sun" sound arresting for 360 days of the year (the other 4 days are cloudy, 1 has rain -and when that happens it's all too shocking to ignore the annual STORM WATCH.) I try sometimes anyway. And fail. Like the weather.

Case in point: it tried to rain here yesterday, but really it was more like the gods were having a heated discussion about it and we were just getting the spittle. It's really too bad, too, as I reseeded the lawn a few weeks ago and the stuff is all laying out there under a slim layer of mulch, looking up at the sky like, well? My gorgeous springtime lawn will go the way of birdseed, I know. I see those infernal sparrows out there now, pecking away at the tiny green shoots and lawn seed. Unfortunate. I have such high hopes for my yard next year. So we plant, and plant again, with all that waiting in between the battles. That's life.

In related news, I have an awesome crop of tomatos right now! A truly startling arrival this mid-December. There's no explaining it, but I am grateful all the same. I made a hefty batch of salsa last week, actually, and all with ingredients from the yard: jalapenos, onions, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, lime. (Okay. So the cilantro and lime in my garden wasn't ready. Store purchase.) It tasted splendid, but then... it's December -not exactly a salsa month. I found it at the bottom of the fridge today, where it had decomposed into a petri dish of spores, molds, and fungus (from the yard!) and I dumped it in the insinkerator. Perhaps I'll make another batch today for lunch -a small bit of pico de gallo I can finish on my own. Now that I think of it, my chips have gone gummy. Anyone want any tomatos?

They taste perfect, by the way. They're the most sweet and luscious red things, fruit of the angels. I'm convinced it's from all the blood meal and bone meal I worked into the soil last October. I'm not sure why I did it, I just had a feeling -but it's possible that "feeling" was "desperation" and I was ready to try anything. (I was having soil problems, if you'll recall.) Sad, but I think if I break down the cost of each tomato based on how much cash I spend on fertilizer and water and starter plants, it's about twenty bucks a fruit. But we gardeners don't do it for the food, you know, we do it for the therapy -so if you break it down that way, I'm saving my family thousands in bills from the headshrinks.

Speaking of headshrinks, the cabbage is looking great right now, too, unless you get up close and see all the unappetizing aphids. Not sure what to do about them. Ladybugs, the natural aphid predator, aren't around this time of year -so we're missing an arc in the circle-of-life thing. I hate to cover the nice purple leaves with all those pesticial chemicals, since I feed most of the leaves to the tortoises, and then there's just the general concern over substance abuse anyway. (Look for my 'Drunken Ode to Malathion' in a coming blog post.) Of course, there's always the timeworn strategies of "companion planting", which are just lost on me in their maddening complexity. I suppose I could introduce parasitic wasps. Yeah, I'll just stop and pick some up on the way home from work -there's a Parasitic Wasp Mart just down the street! (Wow, that begs for a cheap corporate WASPy WalMart pun, doesn't it? I'll spare you. I'll spare us all.)

And the current crop of onions is coming along and I have high hopes for the asparagus I planted, both should be ready later this winter for a nice, hot February soup. We've also got some squash and eggplant burgeoning as well, still December-odd. I guess, even though my garden both foundered and floundered for much of the year, it appears we're having some late entry success. Barring the usual January SoCal cold snap, everything should come out just scrumptiously. And then there's those damn birds and squirrels -beaks and claws of another kind.