Friday, April 25, 2014

My Extreme Emotional Response to Rain

April showers, or any showers for that matter, aren't really a thing here in Fort Collins. I've lived here for almost six years and I still have not been able to come to terms with the dry climate. Other than my family and friends, the thing I miss the most about the Midwest are the thunderstorms. I miss the first rain-smelling gusts of wind, the pitter-patter of rain on the roof, counting the seconds between thunder and lightning, the after-storm smell of earth and worms, and finally, the vivid greens that result.
Here, we don't get full-on thunderstorms, and it often seems like we don't get any rain at all. I'm serious. We are very close to thunderstorm-less in Fort Collins. Isolated thunderstorms, yes, but I can't really count those when you have to be within a 2-mile radius of a storm cloud to experience a brief shower and thunder rumble. It's extremely frustrating. I'm getting all riled up just writing about it.
At this point, you may have picked up on the fact that I have an extremely emotional response to rain and Colorado weather in general. I'm often asked to calm down when I curse the skies after watching storm clouds that promise moisture slide over the foothills, completely break up above us, reform to the east of us, and totally skip us with their precious gift of moisture.
You know what makes it even worse? This meteorological event called "Virga." I'd never heard of or seen such a thing before living in CO. Now, it's the bane of my existence. Virga is when moisture-filled clouds manage to create some precipitation, only to have it evaporate before it hits the ground. Yeah, this happens a lot and it makes me really angry.

You're so stupid, Virga. Why can't you just learn how to rain properly?
 On the flip side, I am overjoyed when I see just a few drops fall. If I see it begin to rain, I will jump up from whatever I'm doing and exclaim to anyone near or far that "it's raining!" while triumphantly throwing my arms into the air. Then, it stops, and I get that familiar feeling of precipitation disappointment. I haven't seen a good, solid rain since the catastrophic fall flood of last year, which made the experience bittersweet, obviously.
The whole point of this rain rant -- which could have been much, much, much longer, I assure you -- is to say that I'm super-duper excited for Sunday and the beginning of next week. Check out that forecast! We have a 70% chance of rain on Sunday! And then a chance for rain throughout the beginning of next week! The garden is gonna love it almost as much as me. Almost.

A sane person may not love seeing a week of 50-degree temps after two weeks of 70s and sunny, but I'm weather-crazy and I'm pumped!
 Bring. It. On.

This forecast has me all sorts of excited


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Meditations on Growth and Change

Almost three years. THREE years! Has gone by since I last posted on this blog. I can't believe the last time I sat down to write a blog post, we were new homeowners,  I hadn't yet tacked on a new last name, and Scout was still just a pup. I only had one niece back then; now I have two nieces, a nephew and my friend's baby girl, who I consider a niece, as well. Patrick hadn't even thought about going back to school (he's in grad school now) and I was luxuriating in all of the possibilities that come with a salaried job with benefits.
We got married! May 26, 2012
I think about this blog so much that I can't fully understand why I'd decided to let it go. I do know that I had some worries about keeping a gardening/environmental blog. Worry of being just another writer out there drowning in the vast blog world, worry of not writing anything that anyone other than myself cares about, and worry about offending and/or angering those who do not agree with my opinions and thoughts on sustainable agriculture and environmentalism. I could go so much further into the multitude of reasons for why, and the reasons for having those reasons, but that's not what I want to do for my first post back. No. I want this blog to be a celebration of  growth, change and nourishment. I want to celebrate cultivation in all its senses.

And right now, I want to celebrate Spring! And ya'll know I do what I want. So here goes.
 Scout had a great winter! She loves the snow.

It was a harsh winter for my family and friends who reside in the arctic-blasted Midwest. In Fort Collins, we had your average Colorado winter with a few frigid days, some snowy days and many sunny, mild days. Patrick's birthday (Feb 2nd) was a classic Colorado bluebird day, which is a nice mixture of sun and snow.
The b-day boy fresh from an epic powder weekend in Winter Park
No matter how easy the winter has been, the first sprouts of Spring are a welcome sight. We started having beautiful spring-time weather in mid-March this year. As soon as it's warm enough, I post up on the deck during the weekend, bust out my garden notebook, along with a few gardening catalogs for brain fodder, and start my garden planning.

I can always count on having big dreams for my little garden. This year is no different. This year, I'm determined to extend the gardening season as well as push the space limitations on my two 8x4 garden beds. I'm also experimenting in companion planting this year. That means I did some research on what plants help each other grow, what flowers keep pests away and which plants prefer not to live in close quarters with each other.  More on all of this later. I'm still in my spring-dreaming phase, so give me some time to soak it in, along with the sun and 70-degree weather.

This is what's been going on since the first signs of spring in March:
Weeds are the 1st to spring to life in garden area
Xeric landscaping begins to show signs of life
Mid-march: Patrick and I both get to work outside

 In a rare burst of DIY confidence, I decided to collect TP rolls and use them as seed pods this year. I cut the rolls in half, cut the bottoms in four places and folded them in to create the bottom of the pot, then taped it to stay closed. They are re-used, bio-degradable and you can just plant them with the seeds. I'm not sure if I'd do it again for five reasons:
1. They got a little moldy around the sides since the cardboard never really dried out.
2. They sat at wonky angles since the bottoms weren't perfectly flat.
3. Some rolls came apart at the seams, making open sides on some of the seed pods.
4. The tape didn't stay taped and some bottoms came apart.
5. It was a pain in the butt.
Despite all of these little issues, I still managed to grow healthy veggies.

Oh, and Yoda. He's my designated plant guardian this year. A good job he has done.

Still Mid-March: Early seed starting for an extended growing season
Late March: time to transplant to bigger pots it is

After transplanting in late March, the veggies are looking promising under their grow lamp

April 20th: Veggies need to be planted or transplanted soon

April 20th: The yard is the greenest it likely will ever be this year

Grow and change. That's what we do. That's what happens in this ever-expanding universe. Try to stop it and crushed you will be. I enjoy observing the change and striving to nurture it. That way, I can be a small part of its healthy growth, deep roots and flourishing life.