The end of a cucumber summer

There it is: our global warming harvest, proving the nay-sayer (me) wrong. A cucumber has grown in our garden this summer, out in the same raised bed as the broccoli, completely unprotected at any time of its growing stage by even as much as a cold frame.

There it is: our global warming harvest, proving the nay-sayer (me) wrong. A cucumber has grown in our garden this summer, out in the same raised bed as the broccoli, completely unprotected at any time of its growing stage by even as much as a cold frame.

When Sam sowed the cucumber seeds in May, I had protested that even if the plants might grow, there was no way they would bear fruit outside of the greenhouse. The two runty plants did end up producing only one single cucumber between them, but still – increasingly strange things are grown under the midnight sun.

I’ve wearied of the endless sun and summer, the merciless heat that over July has fried a large part of the vegetation here into a shrivelled yellow backdrop as if it were September already. Our hands are now permanently dangling at the level of our kneecaps, thanks to the drought that had us carrying endless water buckets into the garden.

The reward for all that watering is meals which now feature fresh broccoli, sugar snap peas and Swiss chard in palate-numbing regularity. Although the broccoli harvest is only a fraction of what it should have been – for a change, the voles only decimated the peas. It was our very own dogs that wreaked havoc among the green clusters of broccoli.

Possibly the dog food company that harps about its product containing regional ingredients and fresh vegetables has whetted their appetites for an even fresher version than what’s dished out from the bag. We have already resigned ourselves that each year, the dogs eat all remotely juicy Saskatoon berries off the bushes, even though we quite like them too. But in this case, we had at first suspected our bear or moose neighbours of being the culprits and were aghast to find out that is was members of our own household who had decimated the ranks of broccoli stalks.

Taking stock of our garden produce had me double-check the groceries stashed in our cabin. In theory, we should have everything now to last us until next summer. But the human appetite is tricky to plan for. I’m leaning more and more towards buying a wide variety of stuff, to counteract the inevitable food cravings that will start as soon as freeze-up is underway and replenishing our supplies will be out of the question for a few months. And yet, despite the cunning shopping that I did, with a bit of canned peaches, canned asparagus, canned clams and sun-dried tomatoes sprinkled in among the palettes of tomatoes paste and green beans (canned, of course), I am already developing a craving for peanut butter sandwiches and a decaffeinated cup of coffee in the afternoons. Because last year I hardly consumed either, I didn’t bother buying more this summer. What a mistake. But luckily, it’s still early and the situation can be rectified by Sam on his last shopping extravaganza in September.

Likewise, I’ve been going over the dogs with a fine-toothed comb so to speak, keeping a sharp eye out for any health concerns that should be checked by the vet while it’s still possible to get out with ease. But usually, things don’t pop up until the trip to the vet becomes a difficult and exorbitantly costly proposition.

I admit, I’m a bit early with all this, usually September is the time to settle down into fall and winter mode. But I feel as beaten and dried up as the soapberry bushes out there after this summer and am firmly taking the view that fall is already here. Another 60 days or so, and a bit of snow might be already be on the ground.

It’s a bit easier to think that way today where the long, long overdue rain is lashing at the windows and the lake a churned up mass of grey. The dogs, fair-weather pooches that they are, have been lying curled up tight on their blankets all morning, displaying none of their usual urge for action. I’ve lit a small fire in the stove and have watched the details of the mountainsides blur and then vanish into sheets of rain. Yellow willow and cottonwood leaves are sailing on the wind. Surely this is a harbinger of fall and then winter when growing cucumbers out in the garden will only seem like a feverish dream.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who

lives at the headwaters of the

Yukon River south of Whitehorse.

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