Thursday, June 24, 2010

Finally, Some Topless Weather

This is NOT Blackdog's convertible.

Just when it seemed that the cold, gray, drizzly, grisly Winter II weather would never leave, summer checked in right on schedule on Monday, June 21. Temperatures have been in the 70s since then, and today is supposed to break 80 for the first time this year.

Monday also was the first day I went topless -- meaning not that I shed my upper garments and regaled Bend with the sight of my splendid abs and pecs, but that I got my convertible out of the garage, took the hard top off and drove around town.

I love to drive around in a convertible, feeling the breeze rippling through my thick, luxuriant, golden hair. But alas, topless days in Bend -- i.e., days in which it is comfortable to drive with the top down without wearing a coat, sweater or sou'wester -- are mighty few. I'd estimate there are maybe 40 or 50 of them per year.

Maybe next year I'll start a count. Meanwhile, I plan to enjoy the Bend summer -- described some years ago on another blog as "six weeks of sunshine and thunderstorms." (When we're lucky we get eight weeks.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How to Have a Sucktacular Garden in Bend

Newcomers to Bend often ask me, as a 25-year resident of The Suckiest Little Town in the West, for suggestions on how to landscape their yards. Ol' Blackdog is always happy to oblige, because landscaping in Bend is ridiculously simple. Thanks to the cold, the dryness, and the incredibly short growing season, there are only three landscape elements that survive and thrive here: rocks, bark chips and juniper.

The top image shows a rock. (This one is a "lava rock," which is kind of cool.) An almost infinite variety of sizes, colors, styles and types of rocks is available to the Bend landscaper, which partly explains why rocks are such a popular element in local gardens. The other thing they've got going for them is that the Bend climate won't kill 'em

The second image depicts bark chips. Like rocks, bark chips are not, strictly speaking, a plant, although they are derived from plants -- specifically lodgepole pine, Ponderosa pine or hemlock trees, typically. Like juniper, bark has the advantage that the suckerrifically horrible climate of Bend can't kill it.

And last but certainly not least we have a picture of juniper, which is far and away the most popular landscaping plant in bend. Juniper is an ugly, gnarled, scrawny, scraggly, straggly, prickly, aggressive, hostile, vicious shrub/tree that bears no visible flowers and no significant fruit, except for small berries that sometimes ferment and are eaten by robins, with the result that your yard is littered with drunken birds making a disgusting spectacle of themselves. The only other thing juniper has to recommend it is that it is virtually impossible to kill. Even the non-stop suckiness of the Bend climate can't kill it.

So there you have your basic Bend landscaping tool kit. Just get somebody to deliver several hundred cubic yards of bark chips, spread it around, find a few rocks (you won't have to look far, and you won't have to pay for them) and scatter them here and there in the bark, then stick three or four scrawny juniper bushes in the ground and -- voila! Your Bend landscaping job is done! Enjoy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

When Lilacs Last in Sucky Bend Bloom'd

Walt Whitman's great elegy for Abraham Lincoln begins with the phrase: "When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd ..."

Whitman chose the lilac as a symbol because Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865, and in the areas of America with a normal climate -- i.e., those that have spring instead of Winter Phase II* -- the lilacs bloom in April.

While on a walk a couple of days ago I spotted a lilac bush that was just opening its blossoms. It is approaching mid-June here.

The lilacs are a good indicator of how the arrival of warm, sunny weather is always about two months behind in Bend. April here is like February in most other places. May is like March. June is like April. July is like May. And August is often like May again, which is kind of nice.

What's not so nice is that January and February are like January and February.

Postscript: The Washington state climatologist predicts that we should see warm, sunny weather by MID-JULY. Now ain't that just peachy keen.

*See preceding post

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Now Playing in Bend: "Winter II -- The Sequel"

A man and his son enjoy a Memorial Day weekend camping trip near Bend

I've decided I am no longer going to use the word "spring" in association with Bend weather or climate.

"Spring" does not happen in Bend. A lot of people who migrate here from California say they "enjoy having four seasons," but Bend doesn't have four seasons. It has three seasons -- well, actually only two and a half: Winter, Winter Phase II (or Winter II for short) and Summer.

Winter can begin anytime between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1, but typically begins on Nov. 1. It continues until the start of April and then segues into Winter II, which runs to mid-June or sometimes later.

The weather during Winter II is pretty much like the weather during Winter, only a tiny bit warmer and with less snow (but often more rain.)

May is right smack in the middle of Winter II, and the weather has been appropriate to the season -- cloudy, gray and drizzly, with the thermometer struggling to push up into the 60s most days.

May Totals

Days of Sun: 13
Days of Suck: 18

YTD Totals:

Days of Sun: 49
Days of Suck: 90