Adjustments Will Be Made

In preparation for a brutal heat wave about to descend on Oregon, I am sitting in semi-darkness, fans whirring, upstairs AC units working at light speed. The garden and the dogs are watered, shorts I have not worn in years taken from the drawer and laid out for donning, and there is plenty of ice in the freezer.

The pond being too small for swimming, I joked with a sister and the husband about setting up the sprinklers in our garden and “running” through them like we all did as children. We even kicked around the idea of doing it naked, but balked at the sunburn risk. Alternatives for activities today include watching movies all afternoon, reading and trying to stay awake, browsing the Internet, and walking around with a wet washcloth on my head.

Our predicted high today is 99 or 102, depending which app you consult. Tomorrow 111 to 113. Huh.

Gardeners like me think of plants as family. I’ve warned them about the heat, but it’s unlikely that some of them will forgive me about the solar torture they are about to undergo. Some ornamentals are fussy and demand particular conditions; others will grow in a swamp or a desert and not care a wit. Grapes will be very happy, and roses.

(I can hear you, friends and folks in the American South West, shaking your heads at my kvetching about heat. Hah. Enjoy your central air. Oregon homeowners generally, or until now, didn’t need it.)

We are becoming California, though, and central air is looking more inviting.

I just visited my birth state, traveling south to the Bay Area, ostensively to attend a high school reunion but also to visit family. Marin and Sonoma Counties north of San Francisco are both experiencing severe drought conditions. Recommended strict water use means no car washing in one’s driveway, don’t water your lawn and what kind of idiot wants a lawn in California for Christ’s sake? (Any lawn except for people with children should be against the law.) My Marin family capture all their shower water and use it on their tomatoes—actually they have been doing this for years.

Next visit was with a sister house-sitting for my nephew. On lovely property jointly purchased by my sister and her son outside of Sebastopol, my sister occupies a tree house—well, that’s what I named it, but it is really a tiny one-bedroom above a garage designed and built by my nephew who is indeed an architectural artiste. They are on a well, I was told when I asked about water restriction. So no worries there, except, when the well runs dry. Aquifers and all that. Drought, and all that.

Final bed was in McKinleyville, better known by those who live there, but think Eureka, California and you get the picture. Redwood country. Salmon fisheries. No worries about water in Humboldt County, whose main concern is illegal pot growers and home meth labs. A hike through Prairie Creek State Park among awe-inspiring red-barked giants, gave me the perspective it is meant to. Temperatures have always been temperate on the northern California coast, but the daily fog doesn’t hang around as much as it used to, and it felt palpably warmer than I recall.

Our Oregon house is closed up now, to the chagrin of our two indoor cats who expect the blinds to be up over the front garden for their viewing pleasure at this time of day. My desktop peace lily will have to suffer through a few days of dim light, too. We all must make sacrifices

This goldfinch has the right idea, but the bird bath is too small for us, too.

Adjustments will be made by all. I just hope we humans make enough of them to save this planet for the generation to come.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


Adjustments Will Be Made — 3 Comments

  1. Good to hear you are also taking your requirements into account, so you don’t overheat. Hydration! good for you and the garden.

  2. Up on Mt Hood we are a few degrees cooler than Portland, but it is still too hot. Ceiling fan designed to circulate warm air from the propane gas log has a summer setting and keeps the house more comfortable than without it. Smaller fans scattered through the house help too.

    Mostly we are hunkering down and drinking lots of water. Barely cooking. Closing and reopening windows when the temps are equal inside and out.

    And we are praying we don’t have the wildfires and power outages of last year. Even though Oregon is lifting all Covid restrictions on July 1, we are keeping masks to protect us from ash and smoke should we have a repeat of last year.

  3. Thanks, Jill. Up here near the Canadian border in NW Washington, we are going through about the same routines — except we can open up our therapy lap pool to cool off, which is a saving grace. I just read that a UW meteorology prof tells her students, “When you get to be my age, you will remember how our summers used to be lovely.” *sigh* I don’t think the human race will continue much longer, but the worst of it is that we’re taking down so many species with us.