Masks – they’re good for yard work, too. It’s the end of August, the end of the driest two months in a typical Whidbey Island summer. The grass has gone from thick and green and hard to keep up with, to brown except for the part over the septic field, to grey as it dies back above ground waiting for the resurgence that will come with the autumn rains. So, why mow? The grass may go from green to brown to grey, but the weeds somehow manage to grow regardless of the weather. The end of August, the time to mow the weeds amidst a cloud of dust.
Washington proclaimed itself the Evergreen State. Looking at the forests can make that seem true everywhere, but the state definitely gets sunny and dry. The forest fire fighters are busiest on the east slopes of the Cascades, but there fires can pop up anywhere, especially when people toss cigarette butts or don’t properly put out their campfires. The island regularly has a Burn Ban season, which is currently in place and hopefully enforced. Evergreen? Yeah, mostly; but not everywhere green.
These are the months that challenge the reputation of dreary weather and the stereotype of flannel wardrobes. Beach wear!, or at least something as light as t-shirts, shorts, and sandals (socks optional).
Gardeners, though, may be in bib overalls, grubbies, clothes that naturally acquire a few rips from thorns, brown or green knees from weeding, and generally are allowed to go far past casual into necessarily messy. Don’t be surprised that one of the badges are blue smudges from harvesting blackberries and blueberries because it is also harvest time. Add gloves and goggles to protect against the most aggressive weeds. And, yes, some wore masks even before the pandemic as a defense against dust and pollen. Hay fever may not be as brutal as Covid-19, but there is enough incentive to avoid weeks of sneezing and watery eyes.
The break from the rains also means sprinklers, soaker hoses, lots of trips with a watering can – or letting it all go brown or grey because this is also the prime season for hiking, sailing, and basically having fun in the sunshine. Usually there’s a mix. It can be difficult to water everything. It can be difficult to ignore everything. But then, a mix makes sense because life is a balancing act between work and play.
The list of what to grow fills thick books. In addition to lawns and weeds, this is season to fill farmer’s markets and farm stands. It is the season for friends offering their excess, especially of things that are perishable. Zucchini, of course. But also, apples, plums, cabbage, potatoes, onions, leeks, asparagus, – it’s a long list. It doesn’t take acreage to make a big impact on a person’s grocery shopping. Well-planned and maintained gardens can do much more than add flavor to a meal. This is also the season for culinary experiments and something unexpected is surreptitiously delivered to doors and decks.
Enjoy the sun and the produce and the chance to get outside, and remember – wear a mask, even if it is simply to avoid a coughing fit from breathing in a dusty lawn.