Today they promised rain; they sent warnings of flooding and potential mudslides. I look to heavy clouds upon the mountains over the city with anticipation. We have been so dry, for years now, counting each drop. Might this year restore some balance to our water supply?
How often they say rain will come— several inches, beware of flooding! Then the storm shifts away and we are left without even a tenth of an inch to savor.
I walk through the orchard. Yesterday we planted three new bare root fruit trees, two apples: a Sundowner and a Gordon, plus a Babcock peach. That brought home to me how dry the earth under its mulch actually was, a sobering realization.
Our neighbor Jaime has been hauling manure from the stables to our property for some weeks now— it saves the stables haulage fees, and I know how to value such largesse. But I’ve had so many other ideas and plots and plans over Christmas and New Years, that now I see the promise in the sky and realize I have a lot of work to do. You can’t just dump mounds of manure and stable sweepings all over your orchard, because it mats and repels the water falling from the sky. So I determine that I’ll do my best to move the majority of the manure sweepings under the canopy of certain trees. Not under the bare-branched fruit trees like the peaches and apples and plums, but under the citrus who are green all year and shelter the ground with their leaves anyway. The sweepings can be tucked under and no harm done, so long as you keep the base of each trunk free.
The rest of the best manure, with the least of shavings and the most of ‘horse buns’ need to be shoveled into my wheelbarrow, then taken and scattered over the main garden bed. I have visions of broccoli, escarole, summer eggplants and tomatoes, string beans and fava beans, all sorts of happy plants reaching green in my imagination.
I know most gardeners don’t work in skirts these days, but I much prefer it. Superior freedom of movement, and even though sometimes my skirts are moving in one direction and I in another, that’s just because I don’t like to move slowly. Skirts don’t bind in such circumstances. So I do the dance of the manure this afternoon, shoveling and raking at the fastest pace I can to clear the way for the rain.
A hot shower later, here I sit in a glow of accomplishment, listening hopefully to the soft shift and whisper of raindrops through the leaves outside. May it be a long rain and a deep one.