Doing The Chores

I apologize for the lightness of the posting of late, but this is the time of year in Central Illinois when, within in a few weeks, one has to undertake all those jobs that those who are fortunate and inhabit a ‘normal’ climate can spread over a whole summer of outdoor activity.

Already we’ve touched eighty degrees Fahrenheit on a couple of days. It won’t be long before that becomes the norm, and then the nineties will takeover, making eighty seem almost cool by comparison.

On a Mediterranean beach such temperatures can be welcome. After all, the sea is beckoning for a cool-off if the sand begins to burn. Central Illinois has more the feel of an overdone Turkish bath, than the Mistral-stroked dry heat of a Spanish resort. Around here, by mid-June the only creatures who find it tolerable outdoors are vicious mosquitoes and the occasional bad-tempered wasp.

Meanwhile, we’re forced to languish in stale, recycled, air conditioning, and long for winter.

As a consequence, I’ve been busy tidying the ‘yard’, as Americans call the patch of cultivated land around their homes that everyone else in the world refers to as a garden.

If there’s one positive aspect to the climate, it’s that everything grows at breakneck speed – especially the things you don’t want sprouting in your backyard. Five large trees have already bitten the dust this year – at least we’ll have firewood for winter – and I now spend as much on weedkiller as was once spent on summer bedding seeds back in Britain.

The weedkiller’s just to keep them in check for a while. It’s useless planting summer bedders. Once the temperature hits ninety, any work in the garden becomes impossible. The first summer in Illinois was spent watching from our air-conditioned prison as my beautiful marigolds and dahlias, grown so enthusiastically from seed, were rapidly swallowed up by a cocktail of prickly lettuce, pigweed, docks, and a host of other virulent botanical outlaws as yet unidentified.

Even the trees have had to modify their behavior. In temperate climes, fruiting and seeding takes place in early autumn – hence, “a time of mellow fruitfulness”. The summer is for growth. In Illinois, seeds appear almost before the first leaves. It’s as though the trees are desperate to do their work before the arrival of that pore-clogging, energy-sapping, humidity.

Too hot and humid through the day; too full of dangerous, biting, creatures in the early morning and evening, I soon learned ‘keeping the yard tidy’ was a chore to be rapidly completed between late April and the end of May – always assuming the violent storms, so regularly a part of Illinois spring times, allow one access to the outdoors.

Hence the recent dearth of posts.

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3 Replies to “Doing The Chores”

  1. Snap, RJ!!! Same kind of thing here in Oklahoma – usually minus humidity, but not at the moment – it feels like my granny’s wash-day outside!

    I gave up on gardening after my first summer here. Too hot, too buggy, too many moles and gophers just waiting to eat the roots of newly planted flowers and plants.
    I used to love tending my garden back on the East coast of Yorkshire. We win some and lose some I guess – we lost our gardens but gained our spouses (or spice?) 😉

  2. I say move to a city and forget gardening! who needs all those weeds, worms, wasps, mosquitos and what ever else is our there in the wilderness….

    Of course I am joking…. but as a city girl, I know exactly why I love it here!

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