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Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Gardener's Diary Archive: A thunderstorm so good, it gave an encore, June 20, 2015

NASA artist's rendering of a microburst. Many ...
NASA artist's rendering of a microburst. Many are invisible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Two thunderstorms today, two hours apart, and almost identical to each other, and to yesterday's: Lowering skies, rising wind, a microburst of very high wind, then about 15-20 minutes of rain. Sun back out, humidity back up.

The evening did cool off a bit more than lately, though, for which I was- and am- grateful.

My peppers, blown off the deck by yesterday's wild, have come back nicely, if a bit tiltedly. I ran out to get them once storm 1 hit today. Of course, I had just watered everything outside.

Out of the blue, I sold a book today. That will, net after shipping, bring me within grasp of The One Pressing Bill at month's end. Who knew? Friends keep telling me, don't worry so much, things will work out. But countering that is centuries of dour Scots Presbyterianism, and decades of courts deciding, in my previous life, to take a perfectly good case of mine and upend it. If something hasn't gone wrong yet, I tend to believe, there is still time.

But I am grateful for some forward progress, I am grateful my roof hasn't blown off, and that I didn't lost my electricity, as friends in other parts of town did. I am grateful for my 85 year-old neighbor, who watches out for me like a hawk from her living room windows. If something did go amiss, she'd be on the phone to 911 in no time flat.

The riotous exoticism of my yard's bird population has dropped away to nothing. The robins rule the front and back yards; Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal venture out of the wood occasionally. But all the migrating and breeding season visitors have pretty much moved on. One pair of mockingbirds remains; they heckled me the other day when I was liberating the gardenias near the great cedar where they nest. "Go on with ya," I muttered. "You've got places to be. Go."

Yesterday and today, however, one surprise: a pair of barn swallows, their dark backs and white undersides easy to spot. My neighbor across the street has several bird houses of the sort they like on power poles and his vapor light, but I never see any activity around them. So I hope they enjoy their stay. But I do miss the bluebirds, who developed a particular liking for worms just outside my desk window. Such amazing flashes of color, now gone; I hope to see them again next year.

After dinner I went out and stacked five big limbs- 10 to 15 feet- the wind brought down from the oaks in the side yard. These willow oaks are standing kindling: the older, interior limbs die, but hang on, decaying slowly, until one day, crash, boom, snap. I thought about breaking out the chainsaw, but then thought, no, wait until tomorrow. It'll be hot and humid then, too, and- I think I heard on the radio- the longest day of the year.

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