ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   The Climate Swap

© Another Day in the Country

My garden thinks that it has suddenly, miraculously, been transported to Oregon with daily rain and no end to the nutrients. Meanwhile, our friend Jill in Portland, reports no rain and hot, hot weather!

With all this moisture, my tomatoes have gone bonkers, putting on fruit and greenery as if they were a tropical forest. The cucumbers are long and lush and hunting for new territory to conquer with their never-ending vines. And some of the string beans, left accidentally unpicked and too close to the ground, had the audacity to sprout mold.

This is happening in Kansas? Isn’t this the time of year that we are supposed to be panting in the heat, with the tomatoes sunburned like Kansas bathing beauties, too long out of the sun and the cucs hunting vainly for a little shade from the withering corn stalks? That is Kansas in the summertime … usually. But if there is anything usual about Midwestern weather, it is that fact that unusual is usual.

My California kids have been enjoying the cool weather, unaccustomed to Kansas heat in the summer. My grandson loved the fact that rain was warm! The first downpour that came after we arrived in Ramona, he was outside running in the road, pouncing on puddles with childish exuberance, “Come on, come out,” he called with enthusiasm. “Kansas rain is great!” And it was!

In the Napa Valley, where summer rain is unheard of and actually unwanted because of the havoc it would wreak on the grapes, if rain does come, as it did surprisingly in June this year, it is cold and not something you’d play in.

Summer weather in northern California is not as hot as summer is in Kansas. As the days grower warmer in the Napa Valley and heat builds up in the vineyards and fields, the cold air is pulled in from the ocean over night — nature’s air conditioner, we call it, with moist air, fog, cooler temperatures. Then the cycle begins all over again, warming throughout the days.

Through the years, summer weather has been very predictable in California, but not so in Kansas. Weather in Kansas is always up for grabs!

In the midst of all this unpredictability, I’ve been enjoying this change of pace. I’m wondering if August will still be hot and oppressive? I’m wondering if my garden will just faint at the change? I’m hoping that, this year — unlike last, I’ll actually have a surplus of tomatoes in my garden.

Yesterday, we took Jana and Dagfinnr to the airport. Their summer odyssey in Kansas was over. We’d filled our days with the joy of leisure: reading, cooking new recipes, grand discussions, shopping trips, movies, and lots of laughter. Jana steers clear of anything green when she is here because she hates chiggers, so while she basked in the sun from the safety of concrete, I pulled weeds (so easy with all this moisture) and we chatted.

I had to chuckle at how times change with the generations. I grew up sunbathing, loved being in the sun, turned brown every summer and felt healthier for it. This generation slathers themselves with sunscreen, hides from the sun, and they cover up even when they go swimming. So it was a surprise to me to find Jana sitting in her bathing suit in the sun in my back yard the first day after we arrived.

“I read in a magazine,” she said, “that you need to spend 20 minutes per day, at least, to get sufficient vitamin D.”

I smiled to myself and mumbled, “it takes a magazine.”

Later, when my grandson saw me sitting in the sun instead of playing a game with him, he said, “I know, I know, you’re getting your vitamin D.” He’d wait patiently for me to come inside and play dominoes. He hadn’t a clue as to what I might mean if I said I was sunbathing.

This week, the children start back to school. Summer is almost over. I do hope that yours has been as good as mine. And, now, here we are, just us again, spending another day in the country.

 

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