May ended up being cooler than “normal” for us folks in Minnesota. It broke the trend of warmer than average that had been going on for something like 23 or 24 months. With a trend that lasts that long I think it becomes the new normal, but I’m not a meteorologist, I just like to complain about them. With the calendar page turned to June summer shoved spring right out of the way. Yesterday it was 90F/32C and today is the same.

With the advent of the heat, Bookman and I have had to change our weekend gardening schedule. We usually get up around 5:30 – 6 in the morning, have breakfast, then do some chores indoors before heading out to the garden around 9. This is fine when it is cool April or May but now that it is hot, we head out to the garden right after breakfast. Even then, as soon as the sun crept in, we were both sweating profusely and didn’t last long. We did not get all that we wanted to finished but we got close enough so that tonight after dinner as the day begins to cool off, we can go back outside and finish up.

Finishing up means a final clearing out of the bed where we had perennial sunflowers growing for a number of years. They liked it there so much they tried to consume the whole space and when we wouldn’t allow them to do that, they began wandering outside the bed into the garden path, reaching out for another bed to take over. This is too much craziness so we decided to kick them out of the garden altogether because we can’t keep them contained.

And then we plant beans. Beans, beans the musical fruit! We have black beans and green beans and yellow wax beans and pole beans of several different varieties and black-eyed peas, which technically aren’t beans but let’s not quibble. Beans give a lot for a little plus they help improve the soil because they fix nitrogen so you can’t go wrong there.

The tomatoes and peppers are still to go in the ground. They haven’t been completely hardened off though they are getting there and will be ready by the end of the week. Sadly, my impatience has cost me most of the tomato starts and a couple of the peppers. All scorched by the sun because I allowed them too much too fast. I did the same thing last year. Will I never learn to take my time with this? Sigh.

First harvest of 2017

On the plus side, I had my first harvest from the garden today! A radish and a parsnip. I didn’t deliberately plant either one, both were volunteers from plants that went to seed last year. I am going to try an experiment this fall. Right after the first hard frost, I am going to seed a few cool weather vegetable seeds like radish, beets, kale and parsnips. I will let them winter in the garden and see if they sprout in spring since they sprout earlier than ones I seeded in April. If it works, I will seed more like normal in spring and have an experimental go at the succession planting thing, something I have not been the most successful at. It’s worth a try. I just have to be sure to cover the bed once I seed it to keep the Dashwoods from digging it up.

I went for a lovely bike ride outdoors yesterday. My allergies were not pleased but the rest of me was. It was a great adventure of 78 miles/125 km. I plotted my route to climb a hill I had discovered at the end of last year when I zoomed down it. In my mind it was huge and I had myself pysched up for the challenge. In the end it turned out to be not as big as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good climb and there was even another cyclist out huffing and puffing his way up behind me, but it turned out I climbed another hill that was steeper. The funny thing is, I had no idea until I got home and uploaded my ride data from my garmin. The hill I went out to climb was unrated and had an average grade of 7%. The hill I had no recollection of climbing was a category 4 (hills are graded 1-4 with 1 being the Tour de France French Alp sort and 4 being simply hard) and averaged a 12% grade. How could I have no recollection of riding up this? It wasn’t even the first time I climbed it because I got a personal record. Clearly when it comes to me and hills, the best approach is to not even pay attention to their existence.

In addition to the hills, I passed a big deer standing right at the side of the bike trail. She tensed up as I approached but as I didn’t make any wild moves, she decided to just keep a wary eye and stay put. I passed within 3 feet of her!

But it was the day of the turtles. I saw a big snapper and about a dozen red-eared sliders and

Turtle crossing

painted turtles. A few were crossing the trail, others were along the side of the trail, and a couple were sunning themselves on a tree branch in a pond. I also saw a heron and a family of geese. I was dive-bombed by gigantic dragonflies. And, it snowed cottonwood seeds. I pedaled by a —paddock? corral? — of about a dozen cows and since the day was beginning to get rather warm at that point their cow-smell was close to overpowering and I choked on it as I picked up my pace to escape.

I got home sweaty and covered in grit from the road, downed a cold glass of nondairy chocolate milk and then took a cold shower. Wow, did that shower feel good!

Next Saturday is the Dirty Benjamin gravel race. I started this race last year but didn’t finish because of heat exhaustion. It was 95F/35C and high humidity. This year the early forecast is predicting 90F/32C and a moderate humidity. I learned a lot from last year’s race and have read about cycling in the heat and hydration, etc. So this year I will be prepared and make it over the finish line. They changed the route a bit from last year. I will get to ride over the “Purple Rain bridge” and down the road Prince and his motorcycle took in the movie. If I remember, I will stop and take a commemorative photo.

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