This summer has been a rollercoaster of emotion, weather-wise. In June, we had highs in the low 70s and lows in the low 50s. Yes, I realize that most of June precedes the actual summer solstice, but I don’t care. On my birthday (June 2, for all of you keeping track at home), I expect sunshine and warmth. At the very least, I shouldn’t have to wear layers and a scarf to walk to a farmer’s market, which is exactly what I did on my birthday.
Then, when the weather finally warmed up, my delight quickly turned into whining as rain and wind and thunderstorms took over. I know, it’s hard to believe that I would ever whine about the weather not being 85 and sunny, but I have a witness who will testify. And I’ll tell you what’s always a challenge: playing beach volleyball in 30 mph winds.
It’s July now and this Chicago summer is finally looking like a Chicago summer: 90s and humid, yay! Would I prefer the weather be dry? Of course! But the sensation of sweltering that the humidity creates is quite welcome by me. It’s even hot enough that I can enjoy an iced or blended beverage without shivering; cold drinks are actually necessary.
But I digress. The only information I needed to relay is this: the June storms seem to have been good for the garden I’m helping tend in Northwest Indiana (and probably great for commercial farmers all over the region), so I guess I should stop complaining. Just last night, the Head Farmer (my boyfriend’s mother) sent us a photo of the first harvest. Three large zucchinis!
Knowing that something is growing in that ground is so gratifying. Gardening is not easy, turns out. At points when I was planting seeds or weeding, I really questioned why we’re doing this. Weeding, in particular, is not fun. It is so physically taxing that, while I’m doing it, I get why inorganic food exists. The possibility of getting rid of the weeds, in one feel swoop, is soooo tempting that yeah, I understand why pesticides exist. No, I’m not saying I want toxic chemicals in the products I ingest; I simply want to express how much my knees and back hurt after just an hour of weeding in a 25’ x 20’ plot and my endless amazement that my great-grandfather did it until he was 89. Anyway, I can feel myself rapidly losing my hippie cred (did I ever have any?), so I’ll move on.
This summer is the second year we’ve done the garden, expanding this year to include more blueberry and strawberry bushes. Last summer, my personal contribution to the land was embarrassingly scant, so this year I’m trying to redeem myself by putting in more effort. I’m under the assumption that the harder I work, the sweeter the zucchinis, tomatoes, berries, rhubarb, asparagus, pumpkin, onions and peppers will taste. At the very least, I’m am increasingly fascinated that seed + dirt + water + sun = food. It’s magical!
Check out the progress of the garden over the past six weeks: