My favorite meteorologist, Ron Hearst of KY3 News in Springfield, looked me in the eyes on the 5 o’clock news, and before I could cover my ears with my gardening gloves, said, “KILLING FROST.”
I swore back. “Shit! How about a little notice buddy?”
“Who are you talking to?” RJ yelled from upstairs.
“Can’t hear you,” I said, even though I could. “You’re yelling at me from upstairs.” (RJ uses this line when I yell at him from upstairs. It’s possible he can’t hear me. He’s been a drummer for forty years.)
“It’s going to freeze tonight,” I said loudly towards the staircase.
“I know,” RJ yelled from the upstairs bathroom. (See?)
“You know?” I yelled back indignantly, although it’s hard to yell with indignity. “For how long?”
“Since Monday when they started talking about it.”
“Who started talking about it?” I asked.
“The weathermen and the paper. You should try watching the news sometime.”
“I was watching the news,” I said defensively. “Will the KILLING FROST hit Stone County? I need to know because I have to harvest the tomatoes, peppers, basil, herbs, cilantro thyme, lemon thyme…. Crap, the whole friggin’ garden if it’s going to freeze. And I only have two hours until dark.”
“I’ll check the weather on the computer.”
RJ hurried to his desk and studiously viewed several graphs and reports. “The weather service says there’s a freeze warning down highway 65 to the Arkansas line so that includes us.”
“But are you sure it’s our county?” I said stubbornly. “Can’t you find a county by county map? I don’t want to pick unripe tomatoes and peppers if I don’t have to.”
RJ gave me the expressionless non-look. “I have to go to work so you’ll have to figure it out.”
“Fudge,” I said, except it wasn’t fudge. “Guess I know what I’m doing tonight. Do you have any idea how much I have to do?”
“Sorry,” RJ said, in an un-sorry fashion. “I’ll cover the lettuce and broccoli when I get home.”
“Thanks,” I said in an un-thankful fashion.
“Can I take your Acura?” RJ asked. “The heater works better than my truck. It’s going to be cold when I get out of the show tonight at 11.”
I pulled on my winter coat for the first time and watched RJ drive away in my warm car. How dare he go to work? I gathered my scissors, pruners, Ziploc bags (for freeze drying herbs), pots, potting soil (for starting cuttings of begonias and coleus), flower press, paper bags (for drying rosemary, lavender and pineapple sage), Lysol (for cleaning pots), and gin, vermouth, and olives (for fortitude.)
An hour later, I started the actual work in the garden. I took cuttings, disinfected pots, carried in a huge Boston fern and cut flowers for my flower press. At 7:30, I turned on the outside lights and grabbed our Black and Decker Lantern from the utility room.
At 8:30 p.m., I warmed up homemade split pea soup and finished my martini. I debated taking an Aleve but decided against it because they’re hard on your liver. I returned to the garden, at least I think it was my garden, and finished my KILLING FROST chores. I cut back and freeze dried ten herbs and gathered the tomatoes and peppers. It was 9:30 p.m. when I finished washing my garden tools.
RJ dutifully covered the lettuce and broccoli with sheets at midnight. I woke up this morning and rushed downstairs. “Did it freeze?”
“Nope,” RJ said. “It’s 34 degrees. That’s as low as it got.”
“I cut back all those plants for nothing? Please tell me you’re kidding.”
“Nope. You just never know. We live in this little microclimate by the lake.”
“I know where we live. You know what this means,” I stated.
“Yes, Ma’am I do…Fried Green Tomatoes for dinner.”
“Don’t call me Ma’am,” I said. “It makes me sound old.”
“Yes, Julie,” RJ replied in a friendly fashion.
“Thank you, Richard,” I said in a grateful fashion.
Causes Jules Jacob Supports
CASA of Southwest Missouri, Master Gardeners of the Ozarks, University of Missouri Master Gardeners, Missouri Court Appointed Special Advocates Association...