It’s hot in Austin. Real hot. Triple degrees hot, day after day, week after week. I’ve never gotten used to the heat here. Maybe it’s because I’m Yankee born and raised. Maybe my cooler German-British Isles heritage takes over instead of my warmer Italian-French side. I just don’t like it. At least I can stay in air-conditioned environments and keep hydrated. Not so lucky is the yard at my house. The fire and smoke may have ruined the inside, but the heat has destroyed my flowers, bushes, and lawn. There’s no water turned on at my house. Even when the plumbing passes inspection, I don’t reside there and I do not have, unfortunately, a sprinkler system. There’s no one there to water the parched vegetation.
Every time I pick up my mail and check out my house, it looks sad and neglected. The house itself looks fine from the outside, but the crunchy yellow-brown grass is in stark contrast to the green lawns of my neighbors. The hanging plants with cascading pink and purple flowers dried up long ago. The herbs and tomatoes shriveled up within a week of the fire. The waxy green Japanese boxwoods I had put in the front yard to increase the curb appeal are now dull yellow. My yard is an eyesore on the block. Sorry, neighbors, there’s nothing I can do about it.
I’m not an avid gardener, but I like flowers and plants, inside and out. Last year I bought myself some lovely ceramic pots and a variety of houseplants for the first time. Up until recently, I’ve always had cats, so no plants survived for long. No matter that I perched the bamboo plants high up on a narrow window ledge in my bathroom. Before too long, I’d see the tell-tale cat teeth marks and wonder, once again, how my huge fluffy cat managed to jump up there and balance long enough for a snack. When Socks crossed the Rainbow Bridge, I was left with two dogs, neither of whom cared about plants. Also, they can’t climb or jump very high, which helps. I loved my new houseplant displays around the house, so when I saw them wilting pitifully after the fire, I tried to revive them by bringing water from the neighbor’s house, to no avail. The heat of the fire and then of the hot, unair-conditioned house killed them off completely.
People tell me that grass goes dormant and it will come back. I sure hope so because I’m pretty sure it’s hard to sell a house with yellow grass. I informed the insurance appraiser about all the dead plants and it seems likely I will be reimbursed for them. I rather doubt he’ll go for replacing an entire yard though it is a consequence of the fire, so I’ll keep hoping for recovery in the fall. My next yard, I tell myself, will have a sprinkler system. The yard will be smaller, too, so easier to maintain. I’ll buy new flowering plants and tomatoes and herbs and start again. I’ll fill all my colorful ceramic pots with new plants. No matter how hot it gets, I’ll keep my plants alive. I keep this vision of a lovely lawn and beautiful plants firmly in mind whenever I drive by my golden brick house with the stiff golden grass.