June: the month when the Pacific Northwest impatiently waits for summer. If the sun comes out, everyone runs to the window to look at it.The past two years were disappointing because by the time summer showed up, smoke from distant (out of state) fires had arrived, too. Of course, last summer the pandemic had also turned up. This year, before even the fourth of July, we are already in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave. The pandemic is still a big wet blanket spoiling everyone’s fun, and due to extreme drought, we know there will be fires.
I dread winter, with its flooding and blizzards. Spring and fall are brief displays of color, last minute transitional seasons meant to distract from the horrible surprises that winter can bring. Summer is supposed to be my “season off,” a mud-free respite during which chores can be planned in advance, and spaced to allow tired old backs to heal between construction flurries.
This summer, the mud is expanding its territory. Now that the third and final weeping willow has toppled into the pond next door, it is apparent how much water they pumped from the ground and evapo-transpired out of their leafy armpits. The bodacious groundwater caused the tree canopies to grow so top-heavy they flipped over, roots ripped from the mucky ground. Now, all that water springs out of the ground, causing new brooklets here and there, notably one rather pesky one that pops up in my barn in January.
It isn’t just baby streams. A week ago, Dobby’s old lagoon crept under my garden table. I always thought that pond would stay put, but darned if it didn’t ooze over its bank, spreading an unsightly organic sheen across the funky recycled planks that serve as a patio. Now The Bartender is considering a top dressing of crushed rock, or better yet, concrete pavers. I’m thinking we ought to take a hint and move the table. It all sounds like too much work. Maybe the native willows I planted will suck up the water before we get around to inanimate solutions.
Suddenly we are underneath Heat Dome-ageddon of 2021 or whatever they decide to call it. Soggy Seattle isn’t used to heat like this. Hardly anybody has air conditioning. It was a record-breaking 109F degrees Monday (43C) and the weather forecasters can’t stop talking about it. I hose down the yard each night to cool it down for the sheep but they aren’t impressed. The ducks enjoy a romp in the sprinkler, but the hens refused to play.
Downstairs rooms tend to flood in winter and all of the furniture (and dozens of storage boxes) is up on pedestals. In summer, though, it’s nice and cool. Mid-70’s cool, and maybe cooler in the wine cellar around the corner down there. (Or The Dungeon, as we called it when the kids were young.) So that’s where the guinea pigs and rabbit are. They are in the downstairs room, not the wine cellar, as they are all underaged. It’s a
stinky stark reminder why guinea pigs need large cages, though.
In other news, the songbirds are chirping at dawn, the hummingbirds, bumblebees and the funny mason bees are buzzing. The wild cottontail bunny still likes to tease Charlie in the afternoons. It’s guinea pig cage cleaning night, and I’m looking forward to moving them back upstairs. I think it will be a while before we complain about 80F degree weather!