Monday, June 4, 2007


We had a motherfucker of a thunderstorm last night. Knocked out the power for about half an hour, and tore up the garden pretty bad. Both tomato plants were nearly horizontal and several of the chile plants (which I thought were very sturdy) are at 45 degree angles. The watermelon and cucumber vines are all askew and covered with sand. You know, I always say that I love dogs but don't want to have one of my own because they're too needy. I'm starting to feel the same way about gardens.

Since this is the first time I've had a vegetable garden, I have to keep telling myself that each disaster is just a lesson for next year. Now I know when they tell you to stake your tomato plants, they're not kidding. Next year, I'm digging post holes and pouring concrete.

While the power was out, J. and I sat on the porch and watched the storm. Using the old trick of timing the interval between lightning and thunder, I'd say this one was pretty darn close.

It reminded me of a particular storm in Nashville in 2004. This was not the first time I lived in Nashville, when J. and I moved there from New York in 1998, but the year I spent there later editing Life in a Box. I rented two rooms from a lesbian couple in a big purple Victorian house with lots of gingerbread, a wraparound porch, picket fence, and a rainbow flag. I loved that house and my time there.

We had an investor and money in the budget for my living expenses while I made the film, and I was left to my own devices. I knew the task was gargantuan (300 hours of footage to be edited into a 90-minute film) so I had to be diligent and more disciplined than I had ever been in my life. I scheduled my days strictly. Not just the time I spent working, but everything, meals, meditating, barhopping. (For example, from 8 to 10 every morning, I sat on the porch with my coffee and rye toast with peanut butter, and I read the New York Times.)

Nearly every afternoon that summer, probably every summer in Tennessee, there would be a thunderstorm. The heat and humidity would build and build all day, then the sky would turn black and explode in a deluge of water and electricity for about 20 minutes. Then the rain would slow and the sun would come out. I would feel a giddy, yearning optimism that there would be a break in the heat and humidity, but it never happened. Right after the storm, it would go back to being just as miserable as before, or worse.

I always took a break from editing to go out on the porch and watch the storm. I always said it was because I didn't want to leave the computer on during an electrical storm, which is true, but it was mostly just because I love storms. One time the lightning was so close, the thunder so loud it made me yell out and the cat jumped 3 feet straight up, and I looked across the street and a tree was smoking.

1 comment:

extrastorchy said...

Our lot is 2.5 acres that's mostly wooded, so we have a lot of critters. I plant herbs and flowers, mostly, because veggies wouldn't even have a chance. As it is, I refer to planting perennials as "feeding the deer" and I've already spent the dogs' inheritance on Liquid Fence.