Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mission Impossible?


What I do all evening. I’d rather visit the community pool to see the summer swim league compete. Inhale chlorine for the first time in five years. Dangle my hot feet in the baby pool (yuk).

I’ve been asked many times, sometimes by irritated inquirers, “Why do you agonize about the weather so often?” That’s an easy question to answer. Because I live and breathe outdoors every day of the year, that’s why. Nothing pleases me more than doing my little part in helping nature along… I’d like to believe I’ve made a difference on my small third acre. I think I share the same sentiments with others in this blogging community. Right?

When Mother Nature ignores our need for water and inflicts such oppressive heat on our dry land, I work harder. Honestly, I’m tired of it after three years of bone dry soil under my feet. Tired of worrying about my patches of wildflowers that aren’t looking too good right now, tired of watching sunflowers wilt, as well as the new Bradford Pear trees we planted recently and anything else I put in the ground after a good soaking with the garden hose. Tired of brief rain showers that evaporate before they hit the ground. Sometimes I feel defeated and just want to scream to the heavens and give up because the hours I spend every evening outdoors on a mission doesn’t seem to be making a difference. And, I sigh… But I keep going, day after day. This is why I’m not happily reading blogs any longer – another pleasure that mean old Mother Nature has taken away from me - not limited to my house, but throughout the country.

Maybe our irrigation technician can fix our problems on Monday. But, oh, that won’t make a blanking difference, really, since we can only use it on Sundays! I’m staying calm now – no cursing tonight.

I’ll focus on the positive. A few samples of what’s looking good.


Invasive, but beautiful in my eyes. No water needed.



I’ve seen more butterflies on my small, sickly butterfly bushes this year than I expected.


Hummingbirds are few but posing right under my nose. Males are U-ing their displays and females chitter at the feeders but not often. Until I capture them with my lens, here’s a photo of my new hummingbird chimes. What a pathetic substitute, ey?

A pair of Barn Swallows perched on my rain gutters a few days ago. If you know me well, you’ll realize how happy I was to see them! They’ve nested elsewhere this year. Pffffft. A few days later, Angie in hot northeastern Tennessee posted a very sweet comment on one of my posts then later e-mailed an invitation for me to see her Tree Swallows album on Kodak. She takes fabulous photos with her Easyshare camera, so I asked her if I could steal a few and she graciously agreed! Below is a sequence of swallow fledglings that I just love love love.

I had planned to post eight of them - all wonderful - but five I grabbed were thumbnails. Visit Angie to see more.

Angie's Photo

Youngins, this is getting old.

Angie's Photo

It's crowded in here. I gotta out of this house.

Angie's Photo

Here I come! Somebody catch me if I fall, please? Mama?

Thank you, Angie. I can dream of swallows tonight.
Have a great weekend, everyone.


beckie said...

Poor Mary! I know you must get tired trying to raise plants on a limited water supply. I really do feel for you. And it must be hard to look at some of our posts and see all the excess of water. But I believe in cycles-even with the changing climates and the greenhouse effect. Keep on hanging on and know that you do make a difference. Those extra butterflies at your poor bush this year...where would they have found sustenance if not for you? Yes even the grackles and blackbirds who are drinking from your pond are proof enough that you are doing your part and more! Take a few deep breaths, put your feet up and get those girls on your lap and let them kiss you a few jillion times and your world will seem a better place. Thanks for sharing those pictures. Aren't they just tooo cute!?

Rose said...

Amazing photos of the swallows--thanks for posting them here and thanks to Angie for sharing them with you.

I do feel for you with your drought, Mary. If I could have put some of the water we had a week ago into rainbarrels and shipped it to you, I sure would have! When we have had dry spells during the summer, I would spend most of the evening with the hose. But no matter how much you water, the garden always seems to do so much better with a good rain.

Susan Gets Native said...

Mary, you seem to have a tendency to beat yourself up about things you can't change.
But you are MAKING A DIFFERENCE. You care, you try, you do things to help. And they are, dearest.
Ever considered a rain barrel, to catch what little rain falls there? You can get cool ones that have a hose attachment and water your plants and fill your pond with that.

Q said...

Dear Goddess of the Endless Summer,
I am sitting at my desk listening to another thunderstorm. I will stay up until it passes. Too many tornadoes in my area to sleep well. The climate seems extreme.
We do what we can and let the rest go. Native plants are the best but even they need water.
Always your photos are wonderful. I love the butterflies. They are why I do what I do. The cone flowers are beautiful too..One of my favorite flowers and good medicine. I dry the leaves and make my tea. The bees like the cone flowers. I like the bees.
So glad to know the hummingbirds are coming to your feeders.
Oh no!! blicking lights...
must go. Take care. Streets lights just went...oh my goodness...
I have to watch out for flash floods...

Jayne said...

I know what you mean Mary. I fear we're right back into that horrid cycle of last year. I was holding out hope early on that we'd be getting rain every third or fourth day, as we did for a few weeks, but now the oppressive heat has settled in and I fear it's effect on everything too. Sigh....

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You are making a difference Mary. Hang in there. You have posted some lovely pictures here.

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

Aw, Mary. I hope you get a break from the heat and relief from the dry! Maybe put on some music and do a rain dance in the garden? ;-) I understand about the birds. We have only starlings here now. Not a chickadee or titmouse in sight for weeks. I love all of the pictures you posted. They're beautiful.

Kerri Farley said...

Oh Mary, I do hope you get some soaking rains soon!! We need it too! Thank you for all you do to keep those flowers and wildlife nourished....we all could learn from you!

I hope you can relax this weekend and please know that we all admire you for what you do!!

And of course, we love your pics! That butterfly shot is AWESOME!!!

Angie said...

You do such a beautiful job with the photos, woman!! And you certainly have such a way with the captions---you do a MUCH better job with the Swallow photos than I could. :) Man, oh man, 97 here yesterday---we sat evening before last, and watched a storm come over our mountain.......only to split.....half went west of us (and it was a loooong masher!!) and half of it went east of us----we got narry a drop....bone dry here....they tease us every afternoon with a chance of, no, none! And as for watering EVERY day, and it may as well be a drip in this lake of ours, well, I guess that's what that long skinny extension is that my right hand has grown. LOL Sending rainy wet wishes and inches deep of wet dirt dreams your way! :) (BTW check out

NCmountainwoman said...

I feel for you, Mary. It's bone dry here. Meanwhile my daughter in Milwaukee is enduring massive storms and flooding.

Great photos. We just have to keep on keeping on.

KGMom said...

So sorry that the southeast drought is continuing.
This is something, however, to which we humans have contributed. Oh, not the weather cycles necessarily (not sure about that) but the tendency to plant things that require precious water. I don't know what all you have planted, so please don't think this is a criticism of your 1/3 acre.
I wish we were more inclined to seek out native plants--plant what is indigenous to an area, that grows with the rain cycles available.
And I wish we didn't have so many huge blasted lawns. Grass is a water hog, and almost useless as far as plants go.
Oops--starting to sound soap-boxy here.
I used to pick flowers by which ones tolerate sun or shade. I now pay much more attention to which ones are water hardy. A small example, I bought almost NO impatiens this year. I love them, but they need too much water.

dguzman said...

I can only imagine that it gets really tiring to water when you're in a water-rationing area. I hate to have to water (from our well); I just expect Mother Nature to rain on us when the plants need it. It's getting tougher to count on her, however, as our weather goes farther out of whack. I suppose that it's better than being inundated and having everything ruined, though.

The Quacks of Life said...

move to the UK constant rain and grey skies.... :(

well maybe not we get little extreme weather and yet we talk about it constantly - go figure.

as ever lovely pics. no new camera yet :D

Alyssa said...

Hi Mary - It really has to suck with the water situation! I know during drought times I would become depressed and angry. You try so hard and have lots of hopes for the year and things just don't turn out! I know the feelings completely. For people that are more atuned to nature and the outdoors weather is the ever present "deciding factor". I have to think of the Zen teachings I've read and force myself of accept the situation as it is. And do what I can and find little things to enjoy. It seems like you've done just that! The berries look delicious and I'd make a tiny tart out of them just for myself (being selfish...)and cover it with whipped cream. The hummingbird chime is really pretty and doesn't seem like a pathetic substitute at all. I think it's very cool.

I've noticed a lot more barnswallows swooping around the yard this year. They are the neatest little bird - I like cliff swallows too. Their nest-building capabilities are really something!

A belated Happy Birthday to your lovely daughter - isn't time is just flying by!! And I was totally relieved to see that you've gotten a new pool for the girls. Those poor little things were in danger of getting heat stroke!

Try to enjoy your weekend - hope the heat abates and you get some rain.

Mary said...

Beckie, yes, I do long for lush, green, rain-fed gardens but I'm hanging in there. I just get tired sometimes. Thanks.

Rose, droughts are to be expected, ones that last a few months, but not ones that last over two years! It's got to get better.

Susan, yeah, I do beat myself up when there's nothing I can do about it. (That's what everyone tells me) BUT I CAN'T HELP IT! If I had a rain barrel, what good would 1/2 inch of rain do when it's evaporate in one day? Huh? LOL!

Sherry, too much of a good thing is dangerous, too. I do feel for those with power outages and tornados. It's scary all around.

Jayne, just keep those hibiscus hydrated on your deck. Every day, like I am.

Lisa, I try... sigh.

Lin, most starlings have moved one but the grackles are ruling! I'm switching to safflower to see if it helps this year (didn't last year - the grackles loved it). I miss my fall/winter birds.

Kerri, thanks! I'm having fun with the butterflies this year. I hope they survive the summer.

Angie, we will measure rain and compare. You aren't far from here. I know the feeling of watching a storm approach and leave us high and dry. Aaaack! Thanks again for those cuties.

Carolyn, I's feast or famine for a few years. Extreme climates. I hope your daughter fares well!

Donna, you're not critical at all. I have a small patch of grass in the front of my house as most of it is landscaped. The back is wide open grass - mainly for the dogs to run! If I had my way, I'd turn my entire back into an enormous pond with walking paths and a bridge. I'd invite a Great Blue Heron, too. LOL! I'm more of a perrenial planter. Just a few annuals - a very thirsty large hibuscus tree, one Lantana, three Zinnias, Snapdragons than haven't been planted yet, and a basket of Verbena. That's it. I also look for drought tolerant perrenials but I sure do miss Impatiens!

Delia, I'm trying to remember when Mother Nature when out of whack. Been several years coming. Watch that well!

Pete - no new camera yet! Give me a few months. I'm busy :o) Hey, you probably count the number of days you see sunshine, right? I wish you lots of rays.

Alyssa, Zen. You are right. You are very funny, too! I need to accept it but I tend to fight it - wears me out. I stand outside with the garden hose in my hand while looking to the sky. Yes, I curse sometimes, but then, I'll see a hummingbird and everything's alright :o)

JeanMac said...

I never tire of your bird pics or any others!

NatureWoman said...

All great photos! It is hot and humid and waterless here already, I can only imagine what it is where you live, Mary.

Cheryl said...

Mary how I understand your tiring...We had drought conditions for two years (very unusual here), it was an absolute nightmare.
For you to have done it for so long, I respect you, I know the dedication and the back breaking work involved.
We had a hosepipe ban, all I had was my watering cans. When I look back I don't know how I managed.....but we do because we love mother nature and the gifts that she bestows on us so freely.
We won't change.....and the weather well...........

Beautiful bird and blooms photograph......they lift the spirits. don't they.

Anonymous said...

Mary, wow you have such a stunning garden and regarding your photography . . . wow those are perfect photos and those colors . . . even better! Keep up the great work!

RuthieJ said...

Oh Mare, here's a big {HUG} from one weather agonizer to another! I wish there was something I could do. (I know there are a whole bunch of people in Iowa and SE Minnesota right now that would be more than happy to send you some extra moisture!)
At least you have the satisfaction of knowing you're doing the best you can with the resources available to you. Hopefully the jetstream will find a new path soon.

Mary C said...

Hurray for the butterflies who can entertain you in that heat! Now if mother nature could convince those lovely critters to do a rain dance for the parched dry southeast U.S. Truly, I love those butterflies - you must be doing something right! I certainly don't see any in my yard. Greetings, Mary, from parched, burning, smoky and ashy Silicon Valley, California. ;o)

Wendy said...

Oh I hear ya. Our weather is harsh. Too cold in winter and too hot in summer. We also have sandy soil and water restrictions, so I watch my garden wither too.
Actually, I don't plant much any more. Just container gardening. Works better than in-the-ground.
When I really retire, I want to move somewhere where I can garden all year around - like Hawaii or somewhere just as beautiful.

Susie said...

Hi Mary,
I can only imagine how difficult it is to maintain your beautiful garden on so little water. Everything you post is so beautiful and I hope it brings joy to your heart too!
(Angie's photos are a real treat)

Debbie said...

Mary, I can only imagine how tiring it must be to have to water all the time. We are having a drying late spring here than usual, but enough. We have had a lot of late afternoon thunder storms that roll through and drop a bit of rain, usually in the form of a cloud burst, but enough.

I love your photos, Mary. You have such a tremendous eye for beauty.

I hope you get a good soaker soon.

kate smudges said...

Duh, I am tired. I was certain that I'd read this post - until it dawned on mw that it was the photographs I had viewed on Flickr. It is frustrating when we are getting inundated with rain, while other parts of the continent are in drought. I loved your bird pics ... how yu get them so crisp and clear I'll never know, but thank you for sharing them. You've made my tired eyes brighter ... if I could I'd serve you up a bowl of rhubarb /strawberry crisp. It is a treat after time in the garden.

Marvin said...

Great photos, both yours and Angie's. Your AccuWeather widget says there are thunderstorms in your area. I hope you're getting some rain.

Kathie Brown said...

Mary, those swallow photos are awesome but I really like the first one YOU took of watering the flowers! That's a great shot. Crisp,clear, lots of color and a nice composition! Great post in sprite of your frustration. And I don't know about you, but my moods are greatly affected by the weather!

amarkonmywall said...

I love your little swallows heading out into the world. Sorry it's so very dry in your neck of the woods- we're having (more) storms this morning here in the midwest- so much rain this. The weather is a puzzle to me this year.

Anonymous said...

I <3 those swallows :)

Ah! It feels good to be back in the blogosphere..

Corey said...

You've got butterflies on your butterfly bushes, we've got mockingbirds nesting in ours. Trade ya!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Mary, I just bought a new camera, (with Master Card Reward dollars)! Since you are in the market for a new camera check out the Sony DSC H50. It has a 15X optical zoom and the macro on it is amazing. I have other Sony products and have been most pleased.

Naturegirl said...

Oh Mary it looks as though my baby blue is not the only one hatching!
These images are wonderful of the baby in the nest!I get ya on the watering thing..we are NOT planting too many annuals and potted plants because we'll be travelling the month of Aug..and no one yet hired to do all the a watering. We invest so much in plant material so I understand why your concern for watering!

Mary I don't believe in putting images of grandbabies on the internet..just *to protect them...hence my wee hands.hugs anna

Anonymous said...

Re: your new camera search; In my comment from a few days ago I told you that I had gotten a new Kodak z812 (I have the z612 like you) and that I was thrilled- well after this weekend, I'm not so sure... although it has taken some gorgeous photos, it does not focus well in macro, takes forever to read to the sd card and to be honest, the colors and sharpness seem off at times... I'm not a happy camper. The z612 has been such an incredible camera that I thought the 812 would be too... just wanted to alert you to this in case you were leaning towards this newer kodak. I think it might be wise to take this one off of your list. Your photographic talents and incredible eye deserve the best, and I'm afraid the kodak z812 is not it! -gretchen

Mary said...

Robin and Gretchen, thanks so much for your camera reviews. Robin, I will check out the Sony DSC H50! Gretchen, sorry about your Z812... I'm taking my time to search. Robin likes her Sony... I was considering another Kodak. Mine is very slow focusing. I miss so many shots.


Anonymous said...

Ugh, the watering! I feel like I have the hose permanently attached to my hand these days. If only the builders had left something, anything, growing on this lot when they built the house! My kingdom for a little shade on the lawn--and a few days of soaking rain.

Sherry at the Zoo said...

It's such a shame that we are up to our chins in floods and you are crying to the heavens for any rain at all...

I will say that after our drought last summer, I prefer the rain.

I love your blog. I love your sense of humor.

Mel said...

All the work pays off... your flowers are beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary,

One way to cope with the plants suffering from a lack of moisture is to increase the organic content of the soil and mulch. It might not look too pretty but it will help. I go around my neighbourhood and collect other peoples grass clippings and (leaves in the fall) and I compost some and some I just put in a deep pile around some of my plants. On the day that you can water your garden give it a good 2-3 hour soaking and then mulch with grass clippings. This will reduce water evaporation and will also help the soil retain water for an extended time.
Also watering as low to the ground as possible, drip is best.
Over time the grass will break down and turn into soil and of course it adds nutrition to the soil as well.
You just have to tough the sometimes ugly look of a bunch of grass going yellow piled around the plants. Don't cover the stalks of the plants though or you'll choke their growth.
For the pear trees bring the grass clipping out across the ground to the extent of the furthest branches, make it nice and deep, 6-12 inches at least but don’t put it right up to the tree trunk leave a few inches.

Just thought I'd offer you that idea in the hopes it might help.

p.s. love your blog read it all the time.


Mary said...

Hi Gaelen,

Thanks so much for commenting. I'm glad you enjoy it here!

It looks like I'll need to change a few things in NC - did things differently in Maryland and Delaware; however, we did use grass clippings in our vegetable gardens! Now, I would need to take grass donations from neighbors... No grass cutting here in two weeks.

We been in this home for 2.5 years now - red clay soil. It's been hard to grow gardens and add new perrentials and trees, etc. with the two year drought we're in.

Your tips are great and I especially appreciate your comments about the trees. We lost a few for reasons you mention.

You sound like an experienced gardener - I'm a novice, really. Do stop by and see if I make any progress. Rain showers are expected on Saturday. Now, that would help!