A Drought, Tom’s Wall, and the Renaissance Faire

Reader Contribution by Mary Carton
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The heat and drought continue in Alabama and other parts of the Southeast. Record high temperatures continued into November. In my backyard in NW Alabama, I’ve had 0.40 inches of rain total for the months of September and October.

There won’t be a fall garden. The Cherokee Purple tomatoes I started in February finally yielded three tomatoes this weekend. I couldn’t get the garden plowed up to plant them, so I put them in large, twenty-gallon containers. With temperatures in the nineties, the black plastic just cooked them. I’ve been trying to redo a couple of beds that trumpet vines have taken over. I thought the best course would be to dig up the daylilies and physically remove the roots. Now I have a large collection of potted plants I can’t get back into the ground.

With soybean combining, the air is so hazy and the dust stirred up so heavy that you couldn’t see the combines. Little rain is expected for the next month, and many farmers will not be planting winter wheat.

Not being able to do yard work, I’ve been to Dragon boat races. A team from my hospital came in first this year. I also went to Tom Hendrix’s wall. Tom has been constructing the wall since 1988 as a tribute to his great great-grandmother, who was a 14-year-old Euchee Indian girl forcibly moved to an Oklahoma reservation during the Trail of Tears. She later ran away and traveled alone all the way back to her homeland in north Alabama. So far, the wall contains over 8.5 million pounds of stones and will stretch over one and a quarter mile.

Afterwards, I went to the Renaissance Faire in Florence. After I came home, I fed the hooligans (my three rescued Border collies) and watered the potted plants. Levi had broken into my compost box again, after some sour dough bread scraps, and had scattered stuff all over the front and back yards. After cleaning up, I went inside for the game.

Right after Auburn’s game with Arkansas started, I heard a bang and the power went out. After calling the power company, I lit some oil lamps. I knocked the chimney off of the one out in the garden room, and it shattered into a bunch of pieces. So then I was barefooted and trying not to step on any glass. I went out in the garage to get the broom, and by flashlight (with shoes on now ) I tried to sweep up the pieces.

After the power came on, I noticed I cut my upper leg somehow. I finally figured out that I scraped it on the trailer hitch when I went out to the garage to get the dustpan. My washer was also going when the power went out, and I found out it would finish up where it left off. Only problem was that it wouldn’t unlock no matter how many times I turned it off. I finally turned off the breaker for a while and it finally unlocked.

Now, to find the repeat of Auburn’s game and have some BBQ pig! The neighbors went out to Bob’s truck to hear the last four minutes of the ‘Bama game during the blackout.

Oh, and with fall migration going on, I had to check out a couple of Alabama’s Birding Trails NW loop.

With fall coming, the mice are looking for a place to spend the winter in my garage again. I put out a few of those sticky traps one night. The next morning, I opened the garage door and Blackie shot around the corner, grabbed the mouse stuck to the pad, and stood there with the pad stuck to her nose. I’m not sure how she knew about the mouse, as I put the pad down after I closed the doors for the night. After I got home late that night and was unloading my camera gear, she managed to pull the mouse off of the pad.

I remember the last time something decided to spend winter in my garage:

It was pouring down rain when I got home, so I let the hooligans into the garage attached to the house and closed the door down to a height where they could get out if they wanted. They have a dog door on the barn and nice beds under the stairs, but they have to sleep out in the front yard no matter what the weather so they can see what’s going on in the neighborhood.

I put my mail on my truck when I went to the barn to feed. Later, I thought about it and knew that I would have confetti in the morning if I didn’t get it. Blackie and Patches kept barking at the door after I went back in the house. Levi was nowhere to be found. That should have given me a little clue that something was wrong.

I finally got tired of listening and went back out to see what the uproar was about. Half of my garage is full of potted plants and hanging baskets brought in for over wintering. Blackie kept lunging at a group of plants. I got closer for a look and told Blackie she was imagining things — Blackie has a mission to eliminate every creepy-crawly critter on the property. I leaned over to right some pots they had overturned and turned my head toward some hanging baskets inches away, and stopped in mid-sentence. There, stretched out across two hanging baskets, was a rat snake.

Now, I had gotten comfortable after feeding the dogs, and — no shoes, just sweatpants and a T-shirt. I put one glove on, grabbed the snake, and tried to get to the opener button and find an umbrella with Blackie jumping up and grabbing the snake’s tail. Did I say it was pouring rain and the umbrella I found only covered one side? So there I was, standing barefooted out in the pouring rain, and the snake was not happy. I was trying to decide where put it so it wouldn’t turn into a tug-of-war rope. I finally decided to put it in the ditch on the other side of the road, since Blackie couldn’t get there because of my underground fence. It would be safe.

Just as I turned it loose, one of the neighbors drove by going home, so my hope for secrecy was dashed. There I was, standing on the side of the road in a pouring rainstorm, one glove on like Michael Jackson, no shoes, only sweat pants and a T-shirt on, holding half an umbrella. He drove by real slow. After getting in the house, I had to call his wife and explain why this crazy woman was out on the road like she was.

Moral of the story: if Blackie and Patches are chasing something and Levi is not around, it’s longer than a mouse.

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