Knee Deep in Zinnias
There was no rain promised for today but the possibility was forecast early this morning. Frankly I doubted it from the first because the weather people have been wrong so much lately. Rain at this time of year is scarce and unpredictable although greatly appreciated when it does come. We are normally dry in August and precipitation of any kind is always welcome, not hail of course. The spring planted row of zinnias down in the garden has grown very tall and collapsed over onto the parsnips and several other vegetables planted adjacent to their row. Growing zinnias is all ways fun because they proffer an endless supply of brilliantly colored blooms from early spring well into the fall. They are not without problems. They suffer from mildew, Japanese beetles and several other ailments that are sometimes difficult to control.
This morning I decided to rerun the top string that had held the multicolored flowers up for most of the summer. It was a green ribbon that was very strong and I thought it would last well into the fall and winter. It failed not even lasting till the end of August. After an intensive search I found a coil of wire and stretched it from one end of the row of zinnias to the other and began tying the rangy stems to the taunt wire. It was a pretty warm morning and the work was tedious. Linda called me from the side deck and said that she had to drive into Blue Ridge to run some errands and wanted to know if I wanted to ride along. I said no and continued working on the row of flowers. Intently I continued with my self appointed task and noticed her car as it passed down the dirt road across the creek leaving a whirlwind of rust colored dust and detritus in her wake.
Joe Pye weed with its mauve colored bloom held high in the air, brilliantly colored purple iron weed and the luminously golden rudbeckia goldstrum decorated the weeds on the shoulder of the road as her car passed and disappeared out of sight. The colors of the wild flowers were somewhat muted by a covering of dust from the very dry road. As I stood there for a moment and watched her leave I heard a distant rumbling beyond the mountain and thought that perhaps the weatherman had guessed right but contemplated it no more being intent on the task at hand. Using a three foot sturdy stick when lifting the heavy bloom covered stems off the ground to avoid any unexpected encounters with rattlers or copperheads I was not expecting anything scary. Being overly cautious because this past week while weed eating between the rows of plants I caught in the whirling string of the machine a piece of bird netting that was there wrapped around the bean plants to keep the ravenous rabbits at bay. Entangled in the netting was a week dead copperhead and the force of the spinning string jerked the dead snake out and wrapped it around my ankles. At that instant I had not as yet realized the snake was dead. It gave me quite a scare and I trampled a number of collards, beans and other vegetable plants as I beat a hasty retreat away from the snake. Like I said it was dead but my first impulse in that situation is to quickly remove myself from the immediate vicinity and not stop and try to take the viper’s pulse.