Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tired Tomatoes, Cranky Cucumbers and Balky Beans.

No, this isn’t a salad gone bad, it’s a vegetable garden in July. The southwest desert is a terrific place for all sorts of things, but not for growing vegetables in the middle of summer. No matter how much water they receive the plants are pooped. The tomatoes won’t set when the temperature is above 100 degrees because the pollen dries out before it gets to fertilize the flower stamen. The cucumbers are in a permanent state of wilt. They might perk up around 4:00 in the morning but I am not going out there with a flashlight to find out. The green beans should be renamed the yellowish brownish beans.

The lantana looks lousy and refuses to bloom. The lawn, once a cooling emerald sea of grass, is pockmarked by brown spots where the sprinklers don’t quite reach and a permanent sludge of mud where it gets over watered to compensate for the soaring temperature.

The plants aren’t the only sufferers in the summer heat. Trying to cool off in the pool is useless. The crystal blue waters beckon with promises of a respite from the sun, but it's misleading. Even if aerated by sprays and fountains, the temperature is bath water warm. The cement is blistering and results in an odd little dance of shuffling and hopping in at attempt to have the feet make as little contact as possible with the pool deck on the way to the water.

The dogs, Kate our Irish Setter and Rose, our Springer Spaniel, refuse to go outside, except for the necessary potty trips. Kate actually sits under the sprinkler when it’s on. And then of course runs through the decomposed granite and the mulch so when she comes back in the house, one knows where she’s been and where she’s going by the paw print trail.

Both girls love their walks in the morning, but now the paraphernalia required resembles that of going on safari. Besides the requisite plastic baggies, and hand sanitizer, and emergency treats, there is the water bottle for them which attaches to your belt and a water bottle for each of us. At the half way point of the walk Rose gulps down her water. Kate on the other hand refuses to drink, she wants the water poured on her nose. That’s what she does to stay cool, puts her entire head in her water dish with her nose under water. Sometimes she even blows bubbles.

Then we have our hats and they have their little hats. You know the doggy kind that are terry cloth lined and you wet down the lining before you put them on? I don’t know if the hats actually keep the puppies any cooler but they look just darling. We have our bandannas and they have theirs. Well they did, until Rose ate hers. I suppose the bandanna just didn’t make the right fashion statement.

That’s just how it is in Arizona in July. 90 degrees for a low and 115 degrees for a high. No matter how early you get up or how late you go to bed, it’s just too hot.


Dee Power is a desert dweller, along with her writing partner Brian Hill, their Irish Setter, Rose and English Springer Spaniel, Kate. She and Brian have written several nonfiction books, the latest is The Making of a Bestseller and a novel, Over Time. You can find more about Dee at

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