I just keep telling myself that there are many situations that could be worse than trying to keep a garden alive in Kansas in July. We've only seen one substantial rain in two months and the temperatures have been hovering near or over 105ºF for a week, but it could be worse. Lawn grasses have completely dried up and the trees are voluntarily shedding half their leaves, but it could be worse. Daylilies are yellowing and drying on the ends, despite all the advantages of their fleshy, water-retaining tubers, but it could be worse. That's daylily 'Beautiful Edging' at the right, not so beautiful at present as it edges my garden bed.
Yesterday, for instance, I was headed into my local Walmart at 10:00 a.m., clawing my way forward through the humid already-102ºF air, when it suddenly occurred to me that it would be worse if I had the job of the Walmart employee who had to round up all the carts. Imagine the despair you'd feel to spend your day walking to the parking lot in that heat and humidity, bringing back a long line of carts, only to watch them disappear from the front end even as you were pushing them back into the busy store. That entire job would be an endless, mind-numbing circle of frustration equal to that of Sisyphus ceaselessly rolling the stone uphill only to watch it roll back down. I say that with every intention of not belittling the efforts of the struggling Walmart cart-person, but in sympathy for them.
But then again, the cart-person knows exactly what lies ahead and is not endlessly teased with possibilities and relief. They don't experience rain in the forecast for weeks-on-end, constantly present several days in the future, only to see the rain chances diminish as the appointed day nears. They don't experience what we did last night; a large storm from the west that dissipates and dies within sight of our gardens, just as it meets the air mass of a large storm north and east that we watched form a few miles away and move away from us. We received 0.4 inches of rain last night, penetrating only deep enough to nourish the crabgrass, leaving the poor lilac bush pictured here to languish in the oppressive heat. When thick, succulent lilac leaves start to turn up their heels, you know the drought is bad. You're from New York and afraid of coming to Kansas and experiencing tornadoes? We hope to see them for the rain they'll bring in their paths.
It could be worse. In July, in a Kansas garden, I just keep telling myself ,"it could be worse." At least I don't want to trade places with the cart-person at Walmart yet. And I've got a great thriving stand of crabgrass.