Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No Hits, No Runs, No Errors

I've hit a slump, of sorts, in my retirement.  Maybe it's the heat; perhaps it's the drought drying out my soul.  If I were a baseball player, I'd still be in the rotation, but I'd be batting less than 200.

I'm staying busy, keeping my mind occupied.  I've made 11 quarts of dill pickles and nine pints of bread and butter pickles.  Next I will look to the making of chow-chow and probably the canning of a few tomatoes, but if you've read my blog previously, you'll know that the blogs have been sparse in recent weeks.  No blogs, no cooking, no reading.  Just a lot of sitting in the dugout.

The appearance of my flower beds has distressed me for quite a while now, so my plans are to clean and refurbish them.  As soon as the heat dissipates, I'll go at it full force, but for now, the yard work is restricted to cooler morning hours.  My first task is to dig up, stem, root, and branch, a patch of lemon balm that has reproduced itself until the planet earth is in danger of falling out of orbit because of the additional weight. 

Smyth County clay clod
beside a root.
I live right smack dab in the middle of numerous farms, but I, for the life of me, do not know how people grow anything around here.  The soil of Smyth County is a solid clay that, when dried in temperatures over 90 degrees for a period of two-three weeks, takes on a quaint brick-like quality.  I've been using a shovel to dig out the roots, but I'm thinking I could do better at this, if I had an old-fashioned mattock to crack open the ground.

This morning when I had worked my way back under the cherry tree, I dug up the plant tag for the original lemon balm plants.  This tag has been under that tree for nearly 20 years, another piece of proof that plastic never decomposes.  It calls lemon balm a perennial, but I can tell you that it is not a perennial.  It's a weed.

I'm over half-way finished digging up the lemon balm.
"Fresh, lemon-mint fragrance," the tag reads.  "Use fresh in teas, summer drinks."  Oh, yeah.  I'm always having mint tea from this patch of flotsam.  The tag goes on to tell how to grow lemon balm, but it doesn't say how to get rid of the stuff after it's taken on the characteristics of Frankenstein. 

I once had some bee balm in this bed, a fragrant, minty plant with a red flower that attracts humming birds and butterflies.  But it died out.  The lemon balm probably killed it in its sleep. 

When I dig up a root, I pull at it, tug on it, yank it up, bringing out the tentacles (with new sprouts on it, no less) with big bricks of dried clay attached to it.  It's impossible to remove every cell of every root, and I know that even one molecule of lemon balm root left behind will no doubt spring to life with its fresh, lemon-mint fragrance.  Not to worry.  I have a jug of Roundup in the garage.

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