a handful of dust

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here to talk about all the agitation of the last few days. You may remember me from such posts as “A Super Scary Day”, among at least as few others like this.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.
This was last Thursday, I think. You can see how I’m making sure that nothing untoward happens in the garden.
The guy I live with installed that squirrel baffle over the suet feeder, but it refuses to hang correctly. It doesn’t matter, because the suet is for the nuthatches and downy woodpeckers, not for squirrels.

Maybe on the same day, the guy I live with started this project, which he described as “neverending”, to dig all the smooth brome out of the garden, and to bury some of the boards previously used for the bulb frames right against the back fence, to help prevent the grass from invading the garden, which it has, everywhere.
Here I am guarding the spade.
Kind of an expensive spade, made by Bulldog, but the one he had before that was flimsy and broke after a year of use. This one is over thirty years old.
You can see all the smooth brome one the left side of the picture, too. And in the field behind the fence.

The smooth brome features prominently in my post. The grass, which is native to Eurasia, has been planted extensively, both as forage for cattle, and to revegetate disturbed areas. It’s an unbelievably aggressive grass which has, as I said, invaded our garden and is almost ineradicable. The guy I live with hates it.
It grows about three feet tall, but dries out in mid-summer if we don’t have any rain. There are acres of it in the field west of us, in the larger field on the west side of our neighborhood, and some south of us, too.

This last Friday we were under a “red flag warning”, as we have been almost every day this month, because the wind has been blowing constantly, and a “critical fire warning” as well, because the humidity was about five percent, and the wind was predicted to gust as high as fifty miles an hour, if not higher.

It started about mid-morning. I didn’t like it at all. The dust was so thick we couldn’t even see the foothills.
I could tell that the guy I live with was really nervous. A friend of his called; she lives in southern Colorado where the wind was even stronger, and I thought the guy I live with was going to burst into tears, because all of this possibility of loss had suddenly reminded him of the days and weeks after he lost his wife; memories he had suppressed until then.
He told his friend he was packing bags, just in case. She said that was a good idea and would do the same thing.

Well, I wondered what on earth he was doing, going up and down the stairs, and putting stuff in the car. The car which would start. (You know how you fix something, but then aren’t entirely sure it’s fixed, and this uncertainly lingers in the back of your mind? That was the car thing.)
I deduced, since we purebred border collies are pretty savvy, that the guy I live with really had two brains, like the two parrots I talked about earlier. One was the nervous brain, the other was the one that, like when he came home from the hospital after his wife died and sat down and made notes of everything he needed to do, phone calls and such, just went about methodically doing the things that needed to be done, so that if we had to evacuate, we would be ready. Instead of trying to figure out what to do when you only have a few minutes to make a decision.

He packed two bags; one for him, and one for me.

The wind blew and blew, and reports of wildfires appeared on the news. There was a plant sale he’d looked forward to going to, that night, but he didn’t go, because I was scared, and he didn’t want to leave me alone.

Fortunately, nothing happened, and the wildfires elsewhere along the Front Range were contained.
The wind blew again on Saturday, but this time from the northwest, and it was much cooler, with higher humidity.
The guy I live with went to the plant sale, but wasn’t gone very long.

He went to the plant sale again today, because his friend was working there, and so he stayed for a lot longer.
You can see he mostly got a bunch of manzanitas, which I guess are going in the front yard (caged against our resident bunny, for the first few years, because bunnies like to bite them into pieces), and a couple of dwarf conifers, both Pinus strobiformis ‘Loma Linda’, which originated from Jerry Morris, who passed away recently.
The guy I live with was very sad when he heard that news. I guess he was kind of in awe of Jerry; he said that talking to him was like talking to Treebeard himself. He’d never met anyone with such an intimate and extensive knowledge of trees and how they grow. The guy I live with’s approach to gardening totally changed after listening to Jerry.
(You can see pictures of the nursery on the older post, “Trip To Jerry’s Nursery”.)

Well, whew. That was the last few days. They said it might rain this evening, and it did, but not enough to make a difference. The guy I live with even saw a few snowflakes.
After all of this, I’ll leave you with a charming picture of half-asleep me.

Until next time, then.

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17 Responses to a handful of dust

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Goodness; I am sorry that you must contend with such distress. I know how sensitive canine people are to that sort of thing because I happen to live with Rhody, and he is canine. When I am worried, I try to be less worried than I actually am because I do not want to trouble Rhody, but he knows everything. Well, you know that because you know how canine people are, since you are, . . . well, anyway, I suspect that you know about such matters. It is good that you are there to make the situation easier, well, relatively so.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. It was pretty scary, though the guy I live with, despite his nervousness, was able to get all the stuff we might have needed. He did say it was probably an unlikely scenario, but better safe than sorry.

  2. Paddy Tobin says:

    Good Lord, you have described conditions which are so very strange to me; conditions we have never experienced here and find hard to even imagine. Weather warnings in Irelan will generally be about heavy rain with “risk of local flooding” and also high winds. We do get some ne’er-do-wells who will set fire to upland heather and gorse in summer and this causes a lot of damage. I can understand it would certainly be a concern and a worry and a cause of distress – and all on top of that blasted grass which I would absolutely hate. We have scutch grass and couch grass here but they don’t cause bother in our garden, thankfully.

    • paridevita says:

      Well, these are conditions no one here thought even possible, until last year, with the Marshall Fire, where over 1000 homes were destroyed, up north. It was a grass fire (a lot more acreage covered with grass involved) with winds clocked at 115 mph. (That’s not a typo.)
      We usually get some rain after the first of August, but last year there was none. Ironically, the day after the terrible fire we had a whole bunch of snow. (The snow was brought in by the winds the day before.)
      The wind last Friday came from the south, which is an unusual direction for weather, here.
      It rained here a little last night, and there were even some snowflakes, but the ground was dry this morning.

  3. Wow. That’s a lot. At least your guy got some new plants. Keep on keeping on. Cheers

  4. Elaine says:

    Can’t imagine how unsettling it must be around such extreme weather events and with the threat of fire. I congratulate you on being prepared. Manni you seemed to take it in stride. Well done. Every canine friend I have ever had has been terrified of storm, wind, thunder. Nice to see your cooler head prevailed. Hope some moisture is on the way. We are digging out from 2′ of snow. Will go along way to replenishing ground water.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. There is zero chance of precipitation here for at least a week. The guy I live with says he can deal with this, so long as there’s no wind. The wind here this month has been fairly awful.
      April has been a wet month ever since I’ve been here; but this year, a total of 0.05 inches, all of which fell last night.

  5. Oh nose Mani an Guy that Wind soundss scarey! Butt THE Fire Warninss were terryfyin! HURRAH fore Guy keepin foe-cussed an packin fore you both!
    orry you are not gettin enuff rain! Wee keep gettin rain from Minny-soda an Whizz-consin…heavy heavy rain! Even Funder an Lightnin last nite!!! It was warm an a bit hue-mid an then it went all chilley again!!!!
    Wee hope weather an firess settell down…
    An Guy yore new plantss are purrty!
    Mani yore so chill-axed inn both yore fotoss’!!!
    ***nose bopss*** BellaDharma an ((hugss)) BellaSita Mum

    • paridevita says:

      It was pretty scary to see the sky filled with dust. At times, the sky was brown.
      It’s chilly here, now, but I guess nothing is going to happen, rain-wise.

  6. barbk52 says:

    Wind is scary. Knocks things down, but fire is the worst. We had wind like that 1 1/2 years ago and fire shot up the creek that runs through the center of our towns and burned 2500 homes. I got some practice packing then. You’d be calm, right Mani? Brave in the face of danger? I’m sure of it.
    Manzanita! So wonderful. It’s just that you want those gorgeous branches sooner that it cares to provide them. Isn’t that brome a big fire hazard too? Not what you need in these windy times….

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with said he remembers that fire, in Phoenix-Talent. (That’s how he thinks of it; it’s a telephone company thing.) And the shocking videos.
      I would of course be super calm. And super brave. The guy I live with says that imagining things, and actually experiencing those things, are very different, and the imagining part isn’t very helpful at all.
      The smooth brome can be a fire hazard, though right now it’s green and growing.
      There was a large manzanita plant (Arctostaphylos patula) right by the front porch, but the backhoe took it, when we had to have the sewer drain replaced. So these are sort of replacements, but not entirely manzanitas. They’re forms collected from hybrid swarms of A. patula and A. uva-ursi found on the Uncompaghre Plateau in southwestern Colorado. (The guy I live with insists that kinnikinnick, A. uva-ursi, is not a manzanita, but bearberry.) Still, they’ll grow without any irrigation here, once they get going.
      There were a couple of others that had to be dug up before the backhoe came, but they didn’t survive, so these are replacements. I hear they are highly mycorrhizal-dependent, so the amount of phosphorous in the soil can be a problem, if we want to grow them without watering them. It’s not likely there’s much phosphorous in the soil here, because it was obvious no one fertilized the lawn that was here when the guy I live with and his wife bought the house, 37 years ago. So that part is okay.

  7. Mark E. Mazer says:

    Perhaps of interest to a purebred border collie or the guy he lives with: https://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1010160

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