There is a Paul Simon song with the following lyric: “Why am I soft in the middle when the rest of my life is so hard?” The sentence kept coming to mind last week during the hurried preparations for Hurricane Earl. I continued to overthink everything. Will this or that be blown away or should I put a rock on top and call it a day?

My friend Randy Rynd and I keep our ancient horses together. She did some online research and found horses during Katrina had a better survival rate when left outside on their own. Those left in barns or tied did not fare as well. We were happy to get that news as one less thing to do was a big help.

Several of us met at the landfill Friday morning. It was obvious everyone had done a big yard cleanup. I was joking that it all needed to be done anyway when Simone DeSorcy remarked, “But not in one day.”

I said goodbye to my garden. I remembered that Bob was a dry hurricane and the whole garden turned black as a result of the salt-laden wind. As you may recall lilacs and forsythia bloomed in October that year. They thought (do plants think?) they had experienced a winter. I am now, happily, sitting in my intact garden and feeling entirely grateful to have dodged a bullet. I will resist the temptation to tally up the monetary expense of the nonevent. I know I spent $50 on batteries alone.

Allow me one curious nature observation. Several people with whom I spoke on Saturday were aggravated at the powers that be for closing businesses and installing a driving ban. (It must be Obama’s fault — everything else is!) I, for one, was happy and confident to see utility and tree trucks at the ready. We have been complaining for five years about the lack of governmental preparedness over Katrina and now we are whining about a couple of business hours lost from overprotection. People can never be happy, it seems.

Holy tomatoes! What a bumper year for them. I’ve been making sauce like a crazy person. This year, finally, I made a map of the garden, listing varieties. One in particular stands above the rest. It wouldn’t win in a tasting contest with the big heirlooms, but for my purposes it is great. Nichols is its name from Native Seed Search (phone 520-622-5561 or online at This nonprofit company out of Tuscon, Ariz., promotes endangered varieties in arid lands. The Nichols family in Tuscon has been growing this large pink cherry tomato for 50 years. We found it to produce perfect fruit. No cracks or splits, no blossom-end rot, no hornworms. It is wonderful for a slightly pink sauce. By the way, the catalog offered this tip. Planting tons of basil in the tomato patch helps confuse and deter the hornworm.

I never got around to planting my amaranth this spring but as luck would have it several different varieties reseeded themselves right along with the volunteer sunflowers. It is a beautiful flower not to mention a wholesome grain loved by the Aztecs.

I gave up on my second planting of zucchini; the squash bug has done me in. I yelled uncle and replanted some lettuce. Next year I’m planting my squashes in my home garden. I let it lie fallow this season and devoted my time and energy to my new plot. I hope the pest won’t follow me home.

I was listening to A Prairie Home Companion this past week. During the news from Lake Wobegon segment Garrison Keillor was commenting about the perfect days of late summer. He says the residents of town are particularly guilty that they don’t enjoy those perfect days enough. Honestly, the man is a genius. I totally get it. It is so beautiful I hope I appreciate it as much as I should. He went on to say, he hopes we can enjoy heaven. I hope we won’t think we should be doing something.

I plan to spend a little time this week educating myself about the upcoming Massachusetts primary election. I must confess I am a bit out of the loop and for a political junkie, this is unacceptable. Don’t forget, all politics is local. Get involved. You have no business complaining if you are not an informed voter.