Like the inhabitants of a castle preparing against an attack, my spouse and I have shut every window, drawn down the shades, opened the basement door, and hefted the room air-conditioner onto one of the upstairs windowsills. Hot weather is on the way.
It\’s the weather that I moved to Vermont to escape, the kind of heat and humidity that reduce me to molluscan status. Every summer the heat gets stronger and stays longer. If and when the kudzu vines and the cave crickets arrive from the lower latitudes, I\’m moving north.
Meanwhile, all I want to do is hibernate or rather, estivate (\”a state of dormancy or torpor during summer\”). This is unfortunate because, now that the ridiculously long spell of cool weather is over, the garden is exploding.
Instead of writing, I should be out there picking kale to make into pesto. I should be picking and freezing chard, pulling up the bolted lettuces and planting something else in their space. Straightening the tomato cages that the daily storms have felled. Weeding the front flower beds, the back flower beds, the vegetable beds. And pruning the four big lilacs before the job gets too big for me to handle.
But these days the only job I like is picking lavender. In the morning, after the dew has dried but before the sun unleashes its full fury, I go out with my basket and cut the spears where a single cobalt bud has opened. It hasn\’t been a good year for lavender, for although the winter was cold there wasn\’t enough snow cover. I lost a couple of bushes, and the survivors aren\’t flowering well. But I\’ll take whatever they give me.
I leave the lavender in its basket on the dining room table, where it releases clouds of scent into the humid air. I should be tying it into bunches and hanging it up to dry, but that seems like a big effort right now.
Instead, I go and sit blankly by the indoor pond and watch the goldfish play in the fountain stream. Don\’t ask me to lift a finger, express an opinion, or make any sense. I\’m estivating.