These days, as my outdoor chores are done, I have more time to recall some memorable gardening mistakes I’ve made out there. Here are a few dim-witted examples I can smile about now.
One midsummer morning a few years ago I checked the temperature before venturing outside. At 6 a.m. it read an eye-popping 89 degrees. The air was so moist I could grab a gob and wring it out. My heart sagged. “Move,” I muttered. I’d certainly broil soon, dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt to prevent my imperious roses from drawing blood. A mosquito net veiled my perky straw hat, and a baggy, elasticized mesh jacket hung halfway to my knees. (Vampire mosquitoes and no-see-ums find me irresistible. This odd outfit stops them cold.)
My feet dragged as I moved outside to deadhead, usually a pleasant, satisfying daily job. Now, even this gentle, slow motion task made me sweat. Temps were predicted to rise to 99: the heat index would make it feel like 104 well before noon. Wonderful.
Pinch, snap, dump. Pinch, snap, dump. Finally, two hours later, every bloomer looked bouncier, minus the weight of its dead mate.
I took a minute to admire the gorgeous multicolored daylilies, which were undismayed by the weather. Hmmm: two lovely flowers weighed down by fat buds, wanted propping up. I did that.
Finally, it was feeding time. Last week my plants had enjoyed Miracle-Gro. (But I’d sprayed myself thoroughly, first, because I’d forgotten to sort out the order in which the three levers worked,)
Today I decided to apply fish emulsion because I think plants enjoy variety. This nourishing slop consists of every bit of the fish that isn’t eatable. It’s mostly pureed entrails. (By the way, liquid food nourishes plants immediately. Granules, though, take up to 6 weeks to be effective...)
I should have reviewed how my applicator worked. (When I dreamily ponder a musical phrase while working, or think about photos of objects in deep space, shown daily on my home page’s ‘Astronomy Picture of the Day,’ a ‘deep space’ can be also be found between my ears.
Then, awful things happen...)
First, I released the hose lever. The hose swelled, much heavier now, as the water pressure rose. But nothing came out of the applicator attached to it. Huh. I peered into the thingy’s business end, saw the problem, turned the bottle’s lever to the ‘on’ position- while it pointed at my mug— splat! The gutsy formula blasted my netted face, hair, hat, and shirt. I stumbled backward, gasping as I fumbled for the hose lever and turned the wretched thing off. The smell of this nourishing slop was- indescribable.
I’d actually repeated last week’s mistake, (Impossible things happen far too often out here.)
Normally I can laugh at myself; one-trial learning, for me, usually takes two trials. But this idiocy was too much. Fuming, I hurled the hose and bottle attachment down and hopped around, dripping guts. I flung the stinky netting and hat away, and punished the air with clenched fists, unnerving the neighbor cat, who crept away. Lord, I was mad. At me.
I had just enough functioning brain to remember that my neighbors live close, and can see and hear every angry dance that weird Dee does, especially from their second story windows. I certainly didn’t want to call attention to this humiliation, so my rant happened in pantomime. (Which was probably even more entertaining.)
Here’s the ‘last straw’ part of this dumb-Dee-dumb dumb comedy.
I’d flung my hat onto a patch of cranesbill geraniums. When I snatched it back, plopped it on my head and began to stomp off to clean up, the hat, and my hair, buzzed. Somebody small and angry was freaking out under there. Bother! There was actually a bee in my bonnet! Which, like my hair, was sozzled, and more than a little ripe. Which made the insect mad. It wanted out Yesterday, or I’d surely receive a pointed reminder.
Hastily I tossed it away again: the disgruntled bee buzzed off before the hat landed on the lawn. Lucky me! He’d been too shocked to stab his barbed hinder into my hot head.
“Whoa,” I muttered. “Enough with stomping fits, you silly twit.” I crept into the house, shed my soggy clothes and showered the mistake away, my face still flaming from residue embarrassment.
Why are levers so compelling for me?
A. I see one.
C. I turn it on.
I tend to skip B, which reads: I reason out sequence before...
At least I hadn’t chosen Miracle Gro. Remembering its awful taste, I’d kept my mouth firmly shut this time. Did this tiny triumph demonstrate a rising learning curve? Maybe.
Then there were the times I had to run after the vanishing Acme Hauling truck, having absently laid my (tenth set of) nice pruners in amongst huge piles of garden weeds and plant debris. (I have never learned this expensive lesson.)
Another time I could hear my cell phone ringing as the city garbage truck trundled away with it buried in there somewhere. It had fallen from my breast pocket into the packed trash bin, unnoticed. I only realized what had happened when the phone called out plaintively as the garbage truck paused before turning the corner...
Both attempted retrievals were unsuccessful.
One time I struggled to unwind and unkink my heavy 50-foot hose, which involved wrestling it into a straight line on the lawn so it could be rewound properly. The task took lots of muscle work and concentration. I’d back up, unkink, back up, wrestle out another kink- completely forgetting to glance behind me. So, of course, I tumbled backward into the big fountain pool just as a small pod of visitors wandered in. I couldn’t vent my frustration with satisfying curses, so resorted to weak exclamations and inane jokes before sloshing away to dry out.
A wry sense of humor does help to explain away these sorts of half-witted embarrassments, which usually morph into ‘funny’ after a decent amount of time passes.