It is nice to have had a break from my past posts of eulogies and tributes to the fallen animals in my life. In that time since, summer has rolled along, soggy, heavy, and hot and seems to be locked into a weird pattern of continual rain, and have been so for nearly a month now. The vegetation has responded and the world outside looks like an emerald tropical rain forrest. Grass in the pasture is so lush that it has needed to be cut just so the horses don’t gorge on it and founder, and the grass in the yard begs for mowing daily. Moss, mildew, and algea abound on every surface and a walk to the barn in this humidity, even if it’s not raining at the time, results in soaked clothing that must be removed and replaced. On Monday I decided to take advantage of a few hours of what looked to be clear skies for a minute and so headed out the front door with a glass of iced tea to go ride some horses. I got to our front steps and started down.
Our front steps are wooden and have been there since we built the house in ’94. They are now shaded by very large pink blooming crape myrtles whose limbs are draped with strands of Spanish Moss making for a nice dark entrance way. They are also under the drip line from the roof and have seen no dry moments in a long time. They are glazed with a green slick slime and they are scary slippery. I knew that, but being anxious to get to the barn I took them anyway. And yup, right at the third from the bottom, being super careful, I found my left foot suddenly leaving me and I went down the remaining three steps sliding in the wet mess, and landed with a not so graceful thud.
I had been very careful in my fall to make sure my tea did not spill. Time does funny things in moments like that. I had time to think about the tea and whether or not Gracie, the Yorkie, was behind me or not. I thought about how hurt I was really going to be after this dumb move. My right arm shot out to block some of my fall and it also slipped on the slime and banged hard into the edge of another step. I sat at the bottom to assess the damage, and drank some tea.
As I assessed, no broken bones, no arteries severed, a major bruise was forming on right arm, left hip area yes, banged up quite nicely, it occurred to me that if one was to take a tumble, and bust one’s butt that to do so on a day that one had already had an appointment with a chiropractor was a silver lining. My appointment had been made at my last visit weeks back but how fortuitous it was that my busting my rear happened a few hours before I was due to get my normal getting put back together. This visit she would have something new to work on. I got up and headed on off to the barn and decided not to press my luck further by riding the horses lest I have even more for my chiro to work on by getting dumped by one of them.
Barn world is always full of visitors, some by day like the cat who cleans up the spilled horse food and the geese who drop their feathers and copious amounts of poop at the pond’s edge. Then there are the sneakers who come in the dark and maraud and steal, leaving few clues as to who and when. Lately we have been the target of a pair of resourceful raccoons that have found one of my feed cans to be easy to raid and have done so despite my continued attempts to get the lid to stay on. It has become clear that they are better at getting it off than I am in thinking about how to keep it on, and they are eating a lot of my horse feed.
At first I suspected coons but could not imagine how one might get the heavy weights off the lid that I put on after feeding each afternoon. So one night last week Mark snuck quietly down to the barn late at night armed with the southern basics, a flashlight and a gun. As he came around the corner to the feed room he saw the lid was open, again, and to his surprise up popped the masked faces of two of these thieves from inside the can. I was not a witness but he claims to have shot and wounded them both, one he left for dead in the wash stall, the other took off into the darkness. Confident of his success he was sure they would not return. Not. The next morning the dead one was gone, and the can lid was open. Short of putting an anvil on there to keep them out, I am perplexed at their ingenuity and persistence. They are definitely ahead of me on this one.
These are also probably the culprits who stole the entire crop of sweet corn out the garden too. I had hot wired the area about the time the rainy season began with a solar charger that Mark had picked up to power it. The problem there was that the charger needed a full day of sunshine to get a good charge, and we haven’t gotten a full day of sun, the charger didn’t get the power, so the coons just waltzed through the wires and got fat on the tender corn.
Between the Asian stink bugs that ate my beans and the coons that got my corn and horse feed, not to mention the unknown predators who robbed my Martin nests, I feel like I have been at war with nature, and am losing. The one saving thing this summer is the tomatoes. They, thankfully, are thriving.
After two years of disappointment of the vines wilting from viruses and zero tomatoes from the garden, this year I tried a new tactic. I wanted them close to the house so we could watch them carefully, and to get them out of the contaminated soil, so we pulled up the shrubs that lined the walkway up to the previously mentioned slime covered steps, tilled up the soil and threw some plants in, and waited.
They are all a mixed variety of heirlooms with the idea that maybe these old types would be more resistant to the evils of growing. While not in as much sun as they might have needed, (but this summer what is?) they have grown tall and have begun to put out delicious fruit of varying colors, shapes, and flavors. We had a brief battle with a few horned worms who nearly devoured an entire plant in a day, but beyond that they have been a redeeming reward for the anguish of the coon infestation and no summer corn. There are few things better in life than a still warm, sliced tomato, right off the vine, arranged on a slice of white bread that’s been slathered with mayonnaise. A shake of salt and pepper, and covered with a top slice of mayo covered bread and that is sheer perfection. One a day, is not too many.
Tomatoes are the real reason summer exists and why I can tolerate evan a little of it. Sadly, the sun will move on and summer will end and tomato season will be gone for another year. But for now, they are at their peak and I am seriously enjoying this part.