Nature hates me, and the feeling might be mutual.

“Oh, shit,” Nick said, pushing his way through the overgrown ferns and thorny outstretched branches of the rose bush. “This is going to suck.”

And suck it did.

Between all our weekends of busyness and the rain and mist and sporadic bursts of sunshine over the past month, the garden went from a meager plot filled with potential to an unwieldy mess of weeds and despair.

The last time we’d been by to weed, the garlic was going strong and radishes had just begun to sprout, and there were early signs of turnips and maybe chard. In not long at all, the radishes went to seed and turned out to be inedible, and the only things that survived are the turnips, the garlic, three purple kholrabi plants, and two struggling carrots. There might be a beet or two sprouting, but it doesn’t look good.

Nick said his best swears as he yanked unidentifiable greenery out from among our withering crops, and I made him promise we’d come back next Friday with seeds and maybe a few pepper or tomato plants and try to recoup some of our losses. He grunted something incoherent and asked for the bottle of water I’d just finished. It’s not too late to try again, is it?

This gardening stuff does not get easier just because you have a year of it behind you. Sure, we planted deep enough and far enough apart, and early enough in the season. There’s more to it, apparently, like regular supervision and a lot of bending over and pulling. I assume that by next year we’ll be experts, as it turns out we’ve still got a whole bunch of that pain-in-the-ass learning to do.

Next year.

Right.

 

And then I fell into the couch and ate watermelon salad until none remained.

Sometimes I have no idea where the time goes. My nightstand is still littered with evidence of Paris and the suitcase which still features the Air Canada tags from my trip in May is still on the floor. Not long after I got back and sort of unpacked we stuffed the suitcase with summer clothes and light formal wear and drove six hours to Osoyoos, a small town in the Okanagan – wine- and rattlesnake-country, for those unfamiliar with the region.

Where Vancouver was rainy and bleak, Osoyoos was hot and sunny, and the dry desert air was a rare treat for my hair, which cannot be worn down most of the time as disco is dead and there is no place for big blonde disco hair in my day-to-day life. I ate ice cream and we got suntans on the beach and beside the pool at the resort where we were staying for Nick’s youngest sister’s wedding. For some reason, theirs was the only grey day while we were up there.

We’ve been back two weeks and the suitcase hasn’t moved from its spot on the bedroom floor, and I’m pretending that it’s still there because the cat loves it. She has claimed it as her own personal chaise, and she stretches her furry little body diagonally across it, chewing the zipper pull on one corner and batting at the pull on the other end with her back paws.

In the time between trips and in the time since we’ve been back, there were the playoffs, and hockey games every two days for weeks and weeks. Nick aged thirty years during the Vancouver-Boston series, and his liver grew three sizes. He raged quietly as Vancouver gave up so many goals, and raged outwardly as we watched our city implode in the aftermath of Game 7. Our reaction to the end of it all has been relief.

There were other things. Nick’s sister and brother-in-law and their little girl were in town, so we attended events in their honour and then fed them a feast, and the youngest sister celebrated her wedding a second time at home, with a larger guest list, and I made the food, anticipating 80 guests. The result is that I am tempted to call our whole apartment a loss and walk away; there is icing on the living room rug and bits of dried blini batter stuck to the cat and weird smells coming from behind the freezer where I dropped and then couldn’t find several dozen blueberries and at least four pieces of pineapple.

In all of this, I have been moving slower and slower as it becomes more and more apparent that this is not a beer belly slung over the top of my jeans. I have been measuring the transition of my belly button from innie to outie, and it looks like it should complete its journey within the week.

My pants don’t fit and I want to violently devour every watermelon I see. I almost cried because a store was out of cantaloupe, and threw a fit in a different store because they had no canned orange segments. Nick said something about hormones, so I punched him. Extremely personal and very unsolicited questions, observations, and advice are now arriving in earnest. And while they have never lacked the appreciation they deserve, my boobs and what I do or do not intend to do with them are suddenly everyone’s business. The correct answer to such probing questions does not seem to be “I’m planning on only feeding the little raptor Diet Coke so it doesn’t get fat.”

It should not have come as a surprise how many people do not have a sense of humour about babies.

It will be a boy baby, by the way. Who, at the moment, compels me toward melon and leaves me ravenous for cans of fruit cocktail, who seems to want an endless supply of Hawkins Cheezies, pulled pork sandwiches, avocados, icy Cherry Coke, and cold pieces of summer fruit.

To keep things interesting, I’ve devised the following salad, which makes it possible to incorporate melon into dinnertime. It’s Meatless Monday friendly, and you can eat it on a bed of greens if you feel like it. I prefer watermelon for this.

Savoury fruit salad

(Serves four as a side dish)

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. sriracha
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

Salad:

  • 2 cups diced watermelon
  • 1 long English cucumber, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sriracha, honey, and lime juice. Taste, adjust seasonings as needed, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine watermelon, cucumber, avocado, mango, scallions, and cilantro. Toss with dressing, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve cold.