Summer Southerly

Autumn, usually, when this wind comes in like a lion and slaughters the lambs. But this is late January, deep into summer (think July in the Northern hemisphere), the lettuces in the garden plump and overly abundant. Yet in comes the wind and pounding rain last night, a little gift from Antarctica, which is closer than you think. A wind with its own special name—southerly, a sound you learn living here to hate on your tongue, a little taste of winter to savor mid-summer. The temperature dropped to below 7 Celsius, 44 degrees F.  Snow on the southern Alps.  A Pacific island? Please.  One might be pressed to choose the cruelest month. Winter is always lurking here. It beckons in the empty spot in the old chicken coop in the corner of the yard, where the five cords of firewood yet to be ordered are late already in getting stacked. It waits in the uninsulated walls, the no-central-heat, the gappy old timber windows we’ve promised ourselves to fill because the southerly reaches through to rattle the bedroom doors. It lurks in all the remaining single glazed windows.  And in the summer garden, of course. Isn’t that what it is to garden? To never be only here when you are but always looking ahead, not just a month but two and three? To be cruelly aware of the transient nature of all happy heat? Your days as a guitar-plucking grasshopper are behind you. Me and my wife, in our salad days, side by side yesterday planting brassiccas.

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