I wanted to write a garden story with a dozen pictures of pulchritude, but it felt somehow dishonest.

Dragging hoses around for weeks has worn me out. At least the North Mercer County Water Department had the courtesy, kindness, and curiosity to call ahead of bill posting time to tell me I’m going to pay dearly once again “How’s your garden growing this year?” they wondered.

“It’s OK,” I said, trying to put a shine on the late season.

What an unnerving year this has been, least of all for those who garden anywhere. Here in central Kentucky, we had multiple damaging windstorms, a dry April and May, then modest rains in June and July, followed by a return to dry again in August and September.

Salvisa garden gate on August 19th. Nancy Bush photo.

Fortunately, it was not-so-hot in Kentucky.

I want to percolate on Salvisa’s not-so-hot season for a second.

We got lucky.

This has been the earth’s hottest summer on record.

Imagine that.

Imagine what?

Tikkun olam, rabbinical preaching for healing the world, for instance, wouldn’t hurt.

Or laugh at Roz’ Chast’s New Yorker cartoon that features a bug-eyed, bearded street vendor with a pushcart painted with the End is Near, Have an ice cream cone. Why not. Might as well.

We are overheated and overpopulated.

What are we going to do?

I was encouraged to see thousands of protestors in the streets of New York, and around the world, with their foot on the pedal, demanding more climate action.

A few days later, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in opening remarks for the Climate Ambition Summit, said, “Humanity has opened the gates to hell. Horrendous heat is having horrendous effects. Distraught farmers are watching crops carried away by floods.”

Kristofer Tigue, writing for Inside Climate New, reported: “For a conference aimed at inspiring world leaders to dramatically ramp up their efforts to combat climate change, the Summit was anything but ambitious.”

Listen to Ezra Klein’s podcast episode: What have we learned from a summer of climate reckoning.This is an expert, rational and unhysterical hour-long discussion on the staggering crisis of population growth, geopolitics and questions of where and how private and public investment will be harnessed for research in wind, solar, long-duration batteries, hydrogen, fusion, nuclear, carbon capture, and so on. 

I’m stinking worried, but believe it or not, the Green Revolution, even with amplified hiccups, is making progress.

There is a glimmer of hope, even though we are burning more coal, natural gas, and wood this year than ever before. I am doubtful we are going to reverse worldwide carbon buildup anytime soon. We will be beholden to smokestacks, while waiting for innovative breakthroughs in clean energy. It may be possible to stem the tide, but it is going to be tricky.

Delusional gardening

I am looking forward to next year’s spring planting. I really am. I have a long list of seeds and plants I want to grow. This inspires me, though I realize flooding, tornadoes, flash freezes, and God knows what else could derail my plans before then.

Delusional gardening helps hardwire my brain to accept the here and now and not be such a worrywart. My instinct is to flip the switch and say there will be a price to pay for humanity’s excesses. Existential worries make my head hurt.

Heat is not my friend. M.S. turns my mind to mush; my legs go wobbly. I love air conditioning.

Surely next summer, or the next summer, or ten summers from now, we will suffer through the hottest summer on record in Kentucky. Or not.

Delude yourselves.

Don’t set the bar for utopia. Gardens are NOT, I repeat NOT, wonderful every week, but they might be your salvation.

Put on sunscreen, stay hydrated, and don’t linger in the summer heat too long next year.

Let’s hope the air conditioning hasn’t gone out when you go back inside.