Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blowing in the Wind

"Blowing in the Wind"

“One does not begin to make a garden until he wants a garden. To want a garden is to be interested in plants, in the winds and rains, in birds and insects, in the warm-smelling earth.”
Liberty Hyde Bailey

When you live on the coast, you must often deal with strong winds. As an advocate, others must also have to deal with my occasional gusts of hot air. As my husband, and I headed to the large garden center this past Memorial Weekend, the infamous car without an accessible parking plate or placard, was using the access aisle as a parking space. It is illegal for anyone, with or without a placard to park on this striped area. The area is intended to be used by someone with an accessible van to deploy their lift or ramp.

Had the owner walked out to her car while I was exiting my van, I probably would have said a few unkind words to her. As it was, no one came around, and my husband and I went inside. As my husband was off doing his own thing, I came across an older woman who was having obvious difficulties with walking. She told me that she should get a chair like mine and asked me, “How much does one like that cost? I told her that an ultra-lightweight wheelchair was very expensive. I told her that a lot of times the bigger stores provided wheelchairs and carts at the front of the store. She also asked me if I had borrowed mine from the store. Oh well, I briefly explained to her that I had been using a wheelchair for 28 years, and I had purchased my own chair.

My husband and I proceeded to the garden section, and purchased an Arrowwood Viburnum, ‘Blue Muffin’, to replace our dead maple. We also purchased a few more flats of annuals (more pentas, zinnia and vinca) to have something to look forward to later this summer. As we were loading up the van, the lady that I had met from the inside of the store walked out, and to her car that was parked on the access aisle. I did not yell, but I took the time to explain to her that she was not parked in a parking space. (I still question how much she actually understood, but at least I tried to make my point.) She asked me who was going to plant all of the flowers, and seemed quite amazed that I could assist with such a feat.

A person cannot always expect a person with a disability, who often has to wait for the owner to come out, or who has to give a complete stranger their keys to back up their car because they can’t get back into their van, to be so patient. I remember another time quite vividly yelling at someone, after I had to wait in the cold at a mall in New England, while I was freezing and paying a babysitter by the hour. They told me I had an attitude, and maybe that day I did. My attitude reflected their inconsiderateness, and unreasonable expectation for me to wait out in the cold for them to come out of the store.

There will always be times where people with disabilities will speak up, especially when they are personally inconvenienced. “Not knowing” or “Only for a minute”, are never valid excuses for parking illegally. If someone blows off wind at you, chances are you probably deserve it.

There have been many other real windy times that I’ll never forget. As a parent, I remember getting a phone call from my son as he was out in his boat under a bridge watching a water spout. Another time, I told him and his friend to go play in the woods. Little did I know that later that afternoon, we would be under a tornado warning. As an adult, my son commissioned as an Officer in the US Navy, and spent eight months in the Persian Gulf. He was in charge of helicopter and small boat missions while defending an oil platform. He once told me of a hundred mph wind that came up, out of nowhere, after he had deployed two small boats. Everyone thankfully ended up safely back on deck. He later told me that his job was one of the most dangerous jobs on the ship. (Just what a Mom wants to hear.)

As an empty nester, advocacy and gardening are a way to keep me from worrying about those things that I can’t control. This past weekend, with the warm waters in the Atlantic, the winds wreaked their usual havoc on my plants. The longer we go without evacuating and preparing for a storm, the more containers and garden art I tend to accumulate. Through the years, I have had numerous plants knocked over and blown around. When the winds blow without rain, the containers and plants have a tendency to dry out.

My new elevated beds were blown fairly well by the wind. They are elevated even more than normal because they are up on the back deck. I lost a zucchini and, quite fortunately, nothing else so far. Heavy rain is supposedly on its way. My husband and I secured the trellises to the beds to prevent them from blowing over. For the most part, everything fared very well. It is still just the beginning of the hurricane season. I certainly hope that Beryl wasn’t any indication of what’s to come.

As a gardener on the coast, I have to have a plan in case we do need to evacuate quickly. I take a lot of pride in our yard and home. Protecting it to the fullest extent possible is necessary. Small objects, stray tools, and containers are brought into the garage to prevent them from becoming projectiles. Larger furniture and containers are moved in as well whenever possible. When I lived on my own, my neighbors would help me with securing everything safely. We keep a small plastic pool in the garage to set the containers in water in case we are gone for a few days. This is all part of our storm plan. We will pack up our pets, but the plants will be left behind. Fortunately, there are sedatives for the animals. My cat Shelby meows continuously just going to the vet that is only 3 miles away. Several hours is unthinkable.


  1. A breath of fresh air this week. I'm thankful I didn't speak to the mis-parked woman at the store...would have come across as blustery!!

  2. I'm also thankful you didn't speak to her!