Disappointment factor explodes in 2010

Disappointment factor explodes in 2010

Posted: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams

Gardening, some wag opined, is 10 percent inspiration, 50 percent perspiration and 40 percent disappointment. The year 2010, with another historic drought, changed that — temporarily, let us hope.
The inspiration was there, all right, at least early on. The perspiration part is always present in our climate. But the disappointment factor exploded exponentially.
It may go with advancing years that disappointment morphs into disillusionment apace and with less resistance. Even though we have had three of these 50-year droughts in the past four years, this one seemed more difficult.
In fact, the drought of 2007 was tougher. More water was bought and hauled on our place that year than in 2010, more plants died, and temperatures were higher.
Following the disastrous 2007 came, of course, 2008, and another record summer drought. More deads, more serious watering and more disappointment. Sweet reprieve followed that and 2009 was a very good year, as reported here 12 months ago. In fact, that year was graded an A-minus.
We thought we were on the road to better times. We were wrong.
It was a fool’s paradise when last spring proved to be probably the most beautiful in all our 34 years at our present garden. No late black frosts, sedate weather and plenty of rain plumped everything up into lush and prolific bloom. This following a cold, but not too severe winter.
Then came June and the tap was turned off. Flood conditions of May suddenly became desert conditions of summer and the drudgery commenced: water hauling under a broiling sun. Our irrigation system worked overtime; a Paris Board of Public Utilities meter reader thought we had a leak. I assured him we had three of them in the form of three hoses running night and day.
Adding insult to injury was the duration of the drought, well into fall instead of breaking like those of earlier years in late summer or early autumn. We gave up on any advance of growth on woody plants by July and merely tried to keep them alive. We failed in a lot of cases. We simply could not get around to it all. Part of my problem, and maybe yours, is that I just have too durn much stuff.
Finally, in November, we got a bit more than our normal quota of rain. It was far too little, far too late. It did just enough good to allow the resumption of planting of replacements for all those drought deads. Somehow, the luster has faded from any optimism toward seeing them mature.
Long-term drought relief, in the form of deep water penetration and replenishment of almost-dry ponds and small lakes, will take feet, not inches, of rain.
December, even, was not overabundant in precipitation but instead colder than normal. A couple of weeks ago, weather authorities said it had been the coldest December, to that point, since 1942. And it didn’t warm up much. Most years we enjoy a bowl of Rejnveld’s Early Sensation daffodils on the Christmas table. This year they weren’t even peeking up from their frozen stranglehold.
No, the drought is far from over, and things, at this point, look bleak for 2011. I hope I am wrong.
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Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.

Published in The Messenger 1.4.11

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