I’m an impulsive person. I always have been. And today, my impulses lead me to sweep the driveway. Wow, exciting stuff, eh? I was coming back up from getting the mail and noticed that the hemlock, at least twice my age and twenty times as high, had dropped dead brown needles all over the blacktop. Not just dropped. Those needles were easily half an inch deep. Obviously it has been like that for a while, and no, I didn’t just notice. I happened to notice – again — on a day when it might be cool enough to do something about it.
While sweeping, I looked up and started humming the theme song from Here Come the Brides, remember that old show from the late 60’s, early 70’s? I think of it so often out here:
“The bluest skies you’ve ever seen, in Seattle, and the hills the greenest green, in Seattle…”
Yes, the sky was absolutely heart-breakingly blue and perfect. Not a cloud in sight. But the hills right now are not so green. Troublingly, in fact. June is generally an overcast and murky sort of in-between month; it’s said around here that our summer doesn’t actually begin until July 5th. This year, however, that was not the case. Like our unseasonably warm winter, we had week after week in the 80’s, with flirtations into the 90’s. The only rain event was not even worth writing home about. Here it is, three quarters of the way through July and the forecast for the next two weeks is much the same. Only a 40% chance of rain tomorrow. Not even 50/50.
A summer like this in Phoenix, where people exclaim, “But it’s a dry heat!”, would be loved and appreciated for its consistently sunny and moderate days. Here, not so much. The grasses all over are brown and burnt to a crisp, particularly along the roadways. It wouldn’t take much more than a carelessly thrown cigarette from a passing car for the whole island to ignite.
There have been fires on the Olympic Peninsula, in the rainforest. Washington State issued a drought alert, and lawn watering and other non-essential uses have been prohibited in some counties. I won’t even begin to describe the state of my beloved garden – the moment a flower opens, the animals rush to consume it. Poor sad Crocosmia. Its whole year culminates in the production of its bright orange flowers, only to have them not last a single night.
We heard that due to the El Niño event occurring out in the Pacific, this weather might hang around until September…of 2016. But all is not lost. The Big One, which could hit any day and split Seattle and its environs asunder, is ten years overdue. The attendant tsunami would be quite welcome, under the circumstances.
Someone is happy about this weather, however. My old friend the Himalayan blackberry. While other plants – and I along with them – lie about, panting like dogs, the blackberries are exuberantly growing. Their berries are ripening. And they know. They know, dammit, that I’m too hot and exhausted to do anything to stop them. Perhaps on some cool morning not too far in the future, I’ll take my revenge and go out picking. Maybe bake a blackberry cobbler. Will they care? Nah, they’ll just make more, of course they will. And that tsunami I mentioned? When all is said and done and the sirens wail and the survivors are left clinging to the Space Needle while the Puget Sound takes back the city, those blackberry canes will be all that’s left. And they’ll be plotting.