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Cheryl Hughes: Unseasonably Warm

“You know what this is, don’t you,” I said to my husband, Garey.

“I know exactly what this is,” he answered.  “It is the grace of God.”

“I’ll go one step further,” I said.  “This is God has mercy on fools and little children.”

               We were picking green beans on Friday, October 8th, when we had this conversation.  If you read my previous column on how I made a complete debacle of our green bean row by covering it in bird netting, you will understand our surprise and gratitude that we have any green beans at all, let alone in October.

               I’m sure, it’s not unheard of to be picking green beans during October, in Kentucky, but I personally have never picked green beans on the same day we were digging sweet potatoes, like we did this year. 

               I do not like hot weather.  I work in it.  I sweat in it.  I whine and complain about it.  I plan to spend my golden years tucked up under an air conditioner, waiting for the arrival of fall and winter.  I do understand the benefits of “unseasonably warm,” however, and this year, in particular, I really appreciate the extended growing season for my green beans.  Years ago, in Alabama, my mother-in-law picked fresh sweet corn on Thanksgiving Day.  It has never happened since.

               I am not qualified to address the issue of climate change, but the summers seem hotter and lengthier than they used to, but I am older now, and it might be that the heat bothers me more, and that causes me to take note of it. 

               According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac—that go-to publication for us serious gardeners—the hottest temperature on record for the state of Kentucky occurred in 1930, on July 29th in Greensburg.  The temperature was 114 degrees on that day.  (The coldest weather in Kentucky, occurred from January 23rd – January 29th, 1963, when the temperature fell to minus 37 degrees. Yes, these are Fahrenheit numbers.)

               There are still volunteer tomato plants growing in my compost pile.  They are hanging full of small green tomatoes that would usually have been claimed by heavy frost by now.  A cantaloupe vine sprouted by my back steps.  I’m leaving it be.  With Kentucky’s weather extremes, it’s hard to know what to expect.  I could be picking cantaloupes on Thanksgiving Day.

               Some of the summer birds that frequent my yard have already flown south for the winter.  They aren’t fooled by “unseasonably warm” temperatures.  Their inner clock tells them it’s time to get the heck out of Dodge.  We don’t have an inner seasonal clock.  We have calendars and almanacs that tell us when to expect what, and luckily for us, we have Landon, the weather guy, to tell us when to batten down the hatches and bring in the extra firewood. 

               So far, I’ve canned 23 quarts of green beans from those little net-tangled, weed-strangled vines.  If the frost holds off, I should get about 10 more quarts.  I will follow the same routine I have followed this entire season.   I will spray my arms down in mosquito repellent, tie a doo rag around my forehead to keep the sweat out of my eyes, then spray my shoes and socks with tick repellent.  I will drive the golf cart to the bottom of the hill to the garden, where I will climb out and remark to God and myself, “This heat is ungodly!”

               “But,” I will quickly add, “Thank you, God, for my green beans.”

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