Writing this post is like writing a back-to-school essay on what I did during my vacation. Everyone else’s essays were always more exciting than mine, and I fear this essay is not much different.
While Jon gardened and worked on household and trailer maintenance and upgrades, I fit in a bit of photography while keeping tabs on the progress of the virus as it marched around the world and across the United States. Most recently, the California fires that erupted from lightning strikes on August 16, 2020, have grabbed my attention.
Unable to travel to see historic buildings, majestic mountains or deserts, hiking trails, or sparkling lakes and rivers, I journeyed into our backyard and our garden became the subject for my photography this summer.
Like many people faced with staying-at-home or sheltering-in-place, Jon filled our long-ignored raised beds with vegetable plants. We marveled at the little shoots that seemed to grow by the minute.
Marigolds attract good insects, right? We learned they are a buffet for unidentified critters. Jon added marigolds to the raised beds, only to have something eat the blooms and leaves. When a bell pepper neared its harvest, Jon gave it one more night. That was a mistake. The next morning, the only thing left of the bush was an anemic-looking stem sticking out of the soil.
Soon the early tomato blooms transformed into little green globes of fruit, and one of our favorite vegetables grew from the zucchini blossoms.
Critters got to a few first tomatoes by eating out a small round hole in one side. Why just a little round hole? Why didn’t it take the whole dang tomato?
The zucchini plants were my favorite, and my camera got a workout while trying to capture the perfect photo of the flowers. I had to document them from the buds that unfold over the course of a few days to the blooms that open wide in perfect splendor.
Spiders in our yard set up camp in the tomato trellis, keeping all the nasty insects from our crops.
And another spider protected our boysenberry plants.
Speaking of boysenberry plants, ours produced more than we thought they would. I was so excited to see the green berries form inside the white blossoms. And then we waited patiently for the berries to reach maturity.
While some fruit never matured enough to pick off the vine, we plucked several large bowls of the sweet-tart berries to enjoy over several weeks.
I don’t have a favorite way of enjoying boysenberries. I put them on my waffles, in my cereal or a smoothie, and stirred them in yogurt. Sometimes, while I gently pulled them from the bush, I popped them in my mouth. Boysenberries are best any which way.
Soon the crop slowed down to only a handful every other day or so. And then one day only two remained. My mouth is already watering for the taste of the berries to return next year.
Jon has kept busy watering the plants, trimming the spent leaves, and harvesting the crops. We still have a few tomatoes to pick, and red bell pepper and jalapeno plants growing, but the zucchini plants have completed their cycle.
While much of California is still on fire, the ones close to us that started on August 16 are nearing full containment. That hasn’t improved our air quality, though. We’ve had Spare the Air Days for several weeks now. On Tuesday morning, September 8, 2020, this was the sky when I woke up.
On Wednesday, the forecast was for 90-degree weather. A thick cloud cover combined with smoke swirling and ash falling obliterated any sunlight and kept temperatures to 70 degrees and under. And it looks like the air quality conditions will not improve until Saturday.
Stay safe and stay healthy.