Mountain Musings: On Assumptions

Mountain Musings – A guest column by Dottie Simmons who lives in eastern Humboldt County describes life at her rural homestead:

Mountain Musings long Dottie Simmons

Mountain Musings long Dottie Simmons

Spring is a wild ride, especially here on the north face of a mountain at 2500’. Nature certainly has a mind of its own and we mere mortals are fools to assume the progression will follow a set pattern.
I used to think there was a set timing to things. Not entirely specific to date, but close. Start this now, transplant then. Expect blossoms by such and such a month and harvest in ‘X’ month. Etc., etc….
We would fret if we were running late pruning or getting the garden ready, or worry if plants were ‘late’ to bloom or set fruit. Nature loved to torment me.

It took many, many years for me to accept anomalies to what I assumed was ‘normal’. I still don’t always like them, but it is no longer a major source of angst when there is an early or late freeze or other garden affecting nature glitch. I have learned to (mostly) roll with the punches. To adapt, not expect.

29º mornings

So we always start a few extra plants (OK, maybe more than a few, but I can usually find homes for them) in case they don’t germinate well. I separate and transplant some and pot some in case we lose some of the first planting. Things such as corn and beans, which we start directly in the ground, I will plant extra in flats in the greenhouse the same day to fill in any future gaps from poor germination, weather issues… or gophers (#$@#%@!).

Rain and mist

I no longer assume blooms are late, or fret about having to replant things (carrots, this year) that germinate poorly. I don’t feel rushed to get things in the ground if the weather works against it. I long ago learned tomatoes and such will catch up to ones planted earlier in favorable weather.

We’ve seen snow here on May 20th and a seriously killing frost (26º!!) on June 6th. We’ve seen killing frost in mid-September followed by 2-1/2 months of perfect, balmy weather, after all the peppers and basil and squash were killed. We’ve learned to have covers ready and back up plants in greenhouses for things that are important to us. We no longer assume there will be a bounty of fruit every year, wet weather, frost, even strong winds while trees are blooming can interfere with pollination. So we preserve extra when we can to have slack for a less abundant year…

But most of all we’ve learned to not be surprised by whatever nature throws at us. There is no norm that one can reliably base an assumption on. And that is more apparent all the time as things are changing around us.

Irises in the sun by Dottie Simmons

May 3

I have always heard what Darwin learned wasn’t that it’s survival of the strongest or fittest, but survival of the most adaptable. And to be adaptable you definitely have to toss out your assumptions.

Snow on Irises by Dottie simmons

May 4-what a difference a day makes!


Join the discussion! For rules visit:

Comments system how-to:

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ernie Branscomb
Ernie Branscomb
8 days ago

When we lived in Redway we had a sweet garden spot. As a refrigeration contractor early summer was a busy time for me, so the garden got neglected at lot. My father-in-law, bless his heart, decided he would weed the garden for me. You guessed it… everything that I had planted from seed and was coming up nicely….GONE! He did leave the tomatoes and squash. But, talk about heartbreak. I smiled nicely and thanked him. It was a bad garden year. Father-in-laws are far worse than gophers.

Dave Kahan
Dave Kahan
1 day ago

As a forestry contractor, I occasionally come home from work with firewood in the truck. When I lived at my old place before splitting up with my ex, I would dump it next to where I parked, to be dealt with later. Soon after we moved into the house we built, I was gone for six weeks working on wildfires. My ex mother in law was visiting at the time. When I got home, about a quarter cord of firewood was down the hill from the road. While my ex was at work one day, she took it upon herself to help prep for the fire insurance inspection. “I was just trying to help!” claimed she. The moral of the story is that problematic in laws know no gender difference. She was and is a lovely person. I just wished she would have asked first.

tru matters
tru matters
8 days ago

A yes, the start more than you need method. Actually Nature does that, puts out a lot of things in hope some survive. Look at all the seeds in fruit and some vegetables.
Nature recognizes her own unpredictable self.