One Month, Four Seasons

As January draws to a close I’m struggling mightily to find some equilibrium.

It’s been a month of cold and frosty nights. It burns off early, but some of our plants collapsed from the cold.

Frozen Nasturtium

Frozen Nasturtium

These nasturtiums bloomed last spring, died in the heat of summer, then self-seeded in late November. The frost did them in.

frozen-bird-bath

Frozen bird bath

frost-kitty-paws-in-the-garden

Frosty paw prints courtesy of Mouse

It’s also been a month of rain.  Cold days gave way to magnificent rain storms. It was too much all at once, but at the same time exactly what we needed. The sky opened up and dumped record-breaking rain on our parched state.

Almaden Lake after a storm

Washed out trail along Almaden Lake

The powers that be declared last week that the six-year California drought is all but over.

Pacific storms in early January have brought widespread, intense precipitation to California, providing relief to some drought-stricken regions but also flooding. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, about 35% of the state is no longer experiencing drought, and the proportion of areas under extreme-to-exceptional drought fell from 38% on January 3rd to 28 percent by January 10. Cumulative precipitation hit a record high, doubling the historical average for this time of year. While a weak La Niña persists, sea surface temperature will transition back to normal by February 2017. Surface reservoirs, especially in Northern California, are beginning to refill, but groundwater aquifers in many parts of the state remain severely over drafted and will take far longer to recover. Source: Californiadrought.org

Yesterday the temperatures climbed into the high sixties (19 C). A week of unseasonably warm days offered a much-needed dry out for communities with overflowing riverbanks and mudslides. Potholes turned into sinkholes, and the CHP humorously named one Steve.  You can read about Steve’s short “life” as a magnificent sinkhole here. I’ve been raking pine needles, removing dead branches and gently pruning damaged leaves.

thinning-the-grass-on-the-walkway

And finally, it’s been a season of disquieting change.

The country said goodbye to President Obama and First Lady Michelle.  Obama the candidate campaigned on hope. Once elected, he brought intelligence and grace to the White House. Obama governed in measured and thoughtful ways, and his presidency was one of inclusiveness.  When the US elected its first black president, it gave the rest of the world hope. The United States was not a racist nation after all!

I still don’t know how we got here? January draws to a close in a season of hatred. Inexplicably, this country reversed course. We’re on a maddening and frightening  path to the 1930s.

san jose women's march

San Jose Women’s March * January 21, 2017

I’m trying to find a balance between action and despair. It’s only about a week since the women’s march and I’m already feeling deflated. Pauline said it bluntly: we’ve elected a mad man.

None of the rules apply.

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Frosty San Jose

frosty inflatable

My son’s prized inflatable, pretend snowing in San Jose

Still no rain, and certainly no snow, but we did get some frost last night.  This isn’t a big deal for everyone, but it’s a rare occurrence around here.  It’s December 4th after all.  The tomato plant had to go eventually.

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I have lots of frozen peas (and I never stepped foot in the freezer aisle). They look plump and juicy and, well, frozen. Since it’s a winter crop, I’m not sure what to think.  The plant doesn’t seem to mind, but it may take a few days for any damage to appear.  I’ll let you know.

frozen pea

Frozen peas, available now in your neighborhood garden

Last week I *finally* planted some beats. I soaked the seeds at the same time I planted the peas, but originally planned to put them in the veggie garden out back.  The tomato plant hung on and on in one bed, and the strawberries in the other, so I didn’t have room.  I planted the beats in the curb garden with the carrots and peas.  I hope they’re equally successful, and that I didn’t plant them too late.

plump pea

Plump and ready

I started my broccoli seeds indoors and all was going well. Somewhat foolishly I started hardening them off, the process of acclimatizing the seeds to their new outdoor home. It would have been better to wait till the holidays were over. I simply forgot about them.  They came back inside for water and a rest.  Hopefully enough of them will recover so I can make a go of it.

Next up, spring bulbs. My back just hasn’t been up to the task this year, so bags of bulbs sit in the garage waiting for my next move.

I think I’ll go make myself a hot cup of tea while I give this more thought. I hope you’re enjoying your day.

Frosty paw prints

Frosty paw prints

Organized at Heart

I’m posting a series of articles featuring organizing around the holidays this week on my blog Organized at Heart. If the subject interests you, please go take a peak.  Today’s blog has a few filing tips (boring) along with beautiful file folders (sweet) to inspire this mundane task.

San Jose Frost: The Garden Goes Under Cover

Galileo Thermometer, Out in the Cold

Galileo Thermometer, Out in the Cold

The temps were mighty chilly last night, the coldest we’ve seen this season. Yesterday’s low was 37 degrees F (2.7 C), though still ten degrees warmer than our city’s record low . Though we have overnight lows hovering around freezing, it generally warms up with the rising sun. Today, we still had frost on the grass at 10 am. Parts of our deck had a thin layer of ice. Good thing I noticed the ice before slipping across the deck and landing on my keister. It made for a better day.

My husband took his Galileo Thermometer outside so he could enjoy the novelty of the visual changes, though it doesn’t measure lower than 62 F (16 C).

Icy paw prints

Icy paw prints

It’s interesting to note the micro-climates in one’s garden. Though both the front and back gardens receive morning sun, the front garden took much longer to thaw.

Crisp, frosty leaves

Crisp, frosty leaves

I’m still holding out hope that the coleus survive the season, but the more reading I do, the more it seems unlikely. Never one to give up hope, they’re bundled against the chill in a blanket of frost cloth.

There are differing opinions on the benefits of frost cloth. Some of my reading suggests heavy watering to reduce a freeze. Others recommend strings of holiday lights to increase the temps by a degree or two. Since I have the frost cloth, I figured it couldn’t hurt.  I’ve been watering as well when the rain stops for a day or two. I’ll have the definitive answer come spring.

Frost cloth protects Coleus

Frost cloth protects Coleus

Galileo Thermometer

Lindy checks the temps

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the novelty of the colder temps and the pretty pictures it affords.  My boys are still hoping it will snow here one day. The last time it snowed in San Jose (and remained on the ground) was 1976. I think we’re long overdue!

Frozen bird bath

Frozen bird bath

Frosty tips

Frosty tips

Kissed by Frost

Kissed by Frost