Change is in the air

By Joanne Peterson | Sep 19, 2013

It’s been an amazingly warm Pacific Northwest summer. For people who enjoy gardening, it’s been a season of successes, with plants thriving in steady sunshine.

I suppose many other retired Edmonds residents find themselves in my gardening situation—where once they puttered in spacious flowerbeds around actual houses, they now find themselves living in condos or apartments, gardening on little decks, coaxing blooms from small planting spaces.

It’s not an easy adjustment. It’s still the same joy, though, to tuck in seeds and plants and watch green sprouts turn into bright blooms.

For the most part, my summer plants grow happily, encouraged by warmth, Rapid-Gro-- and praise from the gardener.   I appreciate the prolific blooms on my two-year-old geraniums, which make it their business to winter over in their big pots, oblivious to occasional frost.

I like the petunias, marigolds, ferns, the one lovely blue hydrangea, the chartreuse leaves of the sweet-potato plant, and the enormous bright green coleus (marked down from $29.95 to $9.95—how could I resist?) which takes up half of my weathered blue wooden bench.

The nasturtiums sprout and develop their unique scallop-y leaves, with orange and gold blooms to remind me of my childhood. (Didn’t you suck the honey out of nasturtiums?)  My grandson Adam and I plant nasturtiums at his house, too, his little fingers tucking the big seeds into the ground, just as I did as a child.

On my deck, I clip bits of parsley, basil, dill, and chives to add to salads and sandwiches, savor sun-warm Grape Juliet tomatoes and snip sprigs of mint to float in my sun tea.

Ah, sun tea. I lived east of the mountains for a very long time. My summer routine included placing a jug of water with a handful of tea bags on the kitchen deck every day after breakfast.  North Central Washington summer mornings are splendid—fresh and clear and dry, suggesting that by mid-afternoon the temperature will top 100 degrees.

By noon, I would know that the glass sun tea container would be hot to the touch, the dark tea ready to pour over ice. (Sun tea takes longer to brew in Edmonds.)

When I was a child, I do not recall my mother making sun tea.  For company, she bought something called Hawaiian Punch.  It was a red fruity drink that came in concentrated form in a bottle—a couple of tablespoons of the mixture added to water created a refreshing iced treat.

My mother often let me make summer-time pitchers of Kool-Aid, each little paper packet — plus quantities of added sugar — resulting in a two-quart pitcher of summertime joy.  In those days, I think sugar was considered The Enemy only by our family dentist, Dr. Magnuson, my classmate John’s dad.

But now it’s September. This amazing golden summer comes to an end. Flowers begin to fade, and chilly nights turn trees scarlet and amber. The tea kettle simmers on the stove, and I reach for a sweater. I’m ready for fall.

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