Regular Program Cancelled Due to Heat and Indolence

Last Year's garden, because this year's is not quite glamor-shot ready

Mornings for blogging and articles research is temporarily suspended until the days are not far too hot and humid after 830 a.m.

Today, in particular, I will be a thermal hermit, venturing outside only for the mail, until the sun drops behind the western ridge and we are on the other side of record daytime temperatures. It was an unheard 70 degrees this morning at 5 o’clock–and 80 in Roanoke. I could have stayed in Alabama for this! So morning hours, until further notice, are for gardening and outside chores.

So I’m inside, stripped down, and parked semi-permanently in front of the fan for the duration. I came in the back door muttering deer *#$%%!! flies! flea *#$%%!! beetles!! bean *#$%%!! beetles!! Eye-Ear-nose-and-throat *#$%%!! gnats! A pox on all of you! I get agitated easily when I overheat.

But then, the heirloom beans are looming their way off the top of the 6′ cattle panels, so I made a low-bridge trellis across one of the garden paths from cattle panel to wire tomato cages for the growing bean vine tops to grow on; hopefully a month from now, it will be hanging heavy with six inch pods.

I mentioned I recently bought a ‘mantis-type’ tiller to take over after I sell the Honda full-sized tiller that is in great shape, but far too much machine for our small compound. The second day of ownership, the new one (a Stihl) wouldn’t crank, reinforcing my notion that I am afflicted with two-cycle psychosis.

Something in my attitude marks me as an easy victim of rebellion by string trimmers, chain saws and the like. I know they have been plotting against me lo these many years.

But I didn’t let this temporary defeat get me down. I looked that Stihl in the soul with a steely stare. I cranked with an Alpha Male attitude, and once it started, maintained a constant stink-eye on the engine, and kept it revved at low idle for five full minutes. Alpha male human, Beta machine, I chanted with forced and unconvincing authority. And thereafter, it was submissive and did my bidding until I put it back in its cage.

I planted a row of lambs quarters seeds this morning in a tiller-tilled bed, though I will deny this if confronted by a real gardener.


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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I generally start my fall garden in flats as it’s easier for me to care for the seedlings in flats than in the garden. It’s all I can do in this heat to harvest what’s already grown. I take early morning and late evening strolls outside. I’d almost prefer freezing, I’ll let you know next winter. 🙂