Summer here in Phoenix officially arrived yesterday at 10:04 pm. And today, being the first full day of the new season, requires a duty that has become all but official. It is the day to rearrange the driveway potted plants and move the umbrella, patio table and two chairs.
The driveway runs north and south along the east side of the house. This means the south end of the driveway will bake in that oven like a peach pie. There is no timer on this stove. The baking season will in all likelihood last until October. Three and a half months more.
The ecology of the driveway is largely dependent on our neighbor’s over-hanging willow. It offers shade at the north end when it is beefed up by enormous amounts of water. Particularly in summer. Trouble is the willow’s owner cares not one desiccated leaf about the tree. She has an artificial lawn and never waters anything unless a rare notion of conscience comes her way. In fact, I’m running our hose on the willow as these words are imaged on the page.
The prep work is mostly confined to sweeping the drive of yellow, crumbly willow leaves. And the sickly way the tree looks, many more are on the way.
It takes at least an hour to sweep. That’s if I want to do a good job. I wanted to today but didn’t earlier. The usual sweep is in the open parts of the driveway, leaving the willow’s droppings and cobwebs to their own devices behind the scene. Like serving as home to a small colony of colorful little lizards. Today, I actually moved plant containers to sweep. Lo and behold!
After sweeping, it is time to migrate the plants north toward the modicum of willow shade. It involves great and exhausting thought. What plants need sun and what ones don’t. The easy part is moving the tables and chairs. No angst here. They always go to the same place. Where the fireplace juts out. The umbrella is moved a tad north to expose the okra which is yet to bear fruit. (Sadly I saw some at Sprout’s yesterday for $3.96 a pound. I caved in and bought a mess of about 4 oz.)
The ferns, the Dianthus and English ivy (hanging from a basket) are the first plants to move. I left one unproductive tomato plant on the south with an ice plant and the okra. Full sun for them. Other plants migrated northward in small doses.
All of this concentrated effort takes a whopping two hours and cuts into the monumental time required to read the A section of the New York Times every morning. But in the end I suppose it’s worth it. There’s something to be said for saving a plant life. More to the point, it’s a tradition with me.