The definition of optimism
May 8, 2018
I cannot believe I did it. Knew in my heart it was wrong. There was no way it was going to work, but I did it any way. Knew better. It was false hope. Sure things were changing, but I knew. Knew from decades on this planet, living in this particular Valley it was a doomed, futile exercise. But I did it any way. No, this is not the confession of a Trump supporter. This is worse, much worse. I planted tomato plants in April.
I know, I know. Nothing is safe until after Memorial Day. Even then one must exercise caution, be vigilant. Heavy frost and winds can come at any time. Snows in August, yes, even April, May and June. I have even warned others new to the area don't do it, don't plant those pretty flowers or tomato plants out in the open until after Memorial Day.
If you have a green house, or a hoop house, or any place safe in your house to grow a plant sure, bring plants home, situate them in the sun. Let them grow and produce flowers and fruit, but don't put them in the ground in front of your house, next to the driveway under loose plastic covering a dangling, pathetically inadequate heat source.
The overnight wind will rip the plastic sheeting from its moorings making it look like a great white sail fluttering across the yard. Tomato plants staked in the ground will be shriveled and droopy because your tiny heat source could not repel 20-degree temperatures. You will have 2-foot tall; bloomless, wilted, frost bitten dejected looking things.
All the covering at night, and uncovering every morning did not save my three early ripening tomato plants. The deep mixed-in aged manure was no barrier to the wind and cold. And not only am I out the $15 I paid per plant at the home improvement center, my plastic sheeting is ripped, and my confidence and reputation are in tatters, too.
See, the neighbors saw me planting. They saw me carting a wheelbarrow of manure. They saw me stake my plants, build a cave of plastic, plug in my heat source.
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They watched and held their tongues. They smiled, now I realize with pity, seeing I was seduced by the overly warm early days of April.
They knew I knew better, but were not going to crush my dream.
They did not discourage. And then they let me live through the consequences of my actions, bless their hearts, without saying a word about the dead green things in the front of my house by the driveway. They know I know. Maybe out of the corner of their eyes when they drive past they try to see if there is any chance, any hope, any possibility of a plant coming back. No, there is not.
I share my embarrassingly learned lesson to say climate change is here, but it hasn't completely altered the growing season in the Valley, yet.
Marie Johnson is a Carson Valley rancher