From childhood and teaching, summers have been sacred times. I cherish mine, and I have noticed that I seem to mark the summers with a title much like that of a book. The title sums up the summer.
In the past, I’ve had The Summer of the Farm, when my former spouse and I went to Wisconsin, lived in a camper in my folks’ yard, and grew vegetables to sell at Farmer’s Market. There were trip summers like The Summer of France, when we rented a gite (rhymes with NEAT), and explored the countryside of Normandy for five weeks, and The Alaskan Summer. I’ve had several food-related summers: The Summer of Blackberry Jam, The Summer of Lemon-Shortbread Cookies, The Summer of Sugar Cream Pies, and more than one Tomato Summer.
This summer is my Summer of Holes. It started in Wisconsin, when I dug the grave of my sister’s dachshund. It was a hard hole to dig physically and emotionally, but I felt it was a privilege to do so for my sister, who was traveling when her dog passed on.
The rest of the holes this summer have been happier ones to dig, but some have been as physically difficult as Sophie’s grave. To count, I have dug more than fifteen holes, and I am not done, yet. These happy holes have been for the flowers and perennials that I’ve planted in my yard. I have created two additional garden areas. One is shade, and the other is undetermined. “Good luck living here,” I say to the plants I drop into those holes chopped into the red Carolina clay.
I read recently, that plants have a better chance of surviving if you put Epsom Salts and sugar into each hole. I missed my chance in the last fifteen, but I can go forward for the Ginger, daisies, and Dinner-Plate Hibiscus that I brought back from the Lake.
The best things about these holes and the plants that will fill them are the stories and the sources. Most of my perennials are shared from someone else’s garden. I love having some of my sister’s ferns and lilies-of-the-valleys, my friend Ellen’s Lenten Roses and gladiolas, and my friend Ginger’s, well, Ginger. I dug my sister’s plants from her back yard in Wisconsin. Ellen shared her plants on a gray and drizzly Sunday in the Spring. Ginger and I pulled weeds together at her Lake house, and then I dug her sharings before a huge rain deluge. They will join Jane’s daylilies and Lamb’s Ears, which survived and bloomed from their planting a year ago. They, too, came to me in a downpour. What’s with that?
I think my Summer of Holes might be my best-ever memory. The jam, cookies, and pies are gone. The memories of the trips are bittersweet. But the flowers will be here year-after- year, just like the Black-eyed Susans and Hollyhocks along my fence from sister-shared seeds.