July reminds me why Oklahoma was the 46th state admitted to the union, and why, before that, it was offered to the tribes whose homelands had been stolen. This beautiful center of our beautiful continent is simply a miserable place to be in July and August without a lot of powerful technology.
Did you know the humidity can still reach 90% in a drought, although the drought has been broken by a tenth of an inch here and a tenth of an inch there? A light rain has fallen as many days as not in the past month. It’s too wet to mow, but the grass has no trouble growing. Other things aren’t doing so well.
Instead of a long growing season, Oklahoma has two short ones, spring and fall. Most years, tomatoes, okra, and peppers bridge the divide of summer heat. Sweet potato vines spread out between the rows. This year is different. I’m losing tomato plants at a frightening pace. I’m not sure I’ll even plant the sweet potato starts in my kitchen window.
I’m not the only gardener who is struggling. Friends greet with me, “Are you still getting tomatoes?” instead of “How’s your garden coming along?”
Still, I’m out early to clean out chicken coops, clean and fill water founts, muck out runs and remove what’s left of watermelon and cantaloupe rinds the chickens have cleaned to the nubbin. I gather what’s still growing, grateful for what I can get, and grateful, too, that the chickens seem to handle the humidity better than I do.
Even in this miserable season, there is okra. And at the farmers’ market, there are cantaloupes if you get there soon enough. In my thick-walled rock house, there is air conditioning.
My old dog snores on the couch, dreaming of squirrels and cooler weather.