According to Dictionary.com, the word critter has its origins in an archaic English pronunciation of creature; 16th and 17th century speakers pronounced -ture suffixes without the ch sound that we now use. Critter is a linguistic leftover from that time. It still has more or less the same meaning,which is any living thing, though most often specifically an animal. In my mind, the word critter conjures up wily little raccoons with grubby paws that are just itching to make mischief in someone’s garbage can. Maybe its too specific an image to have in mind, but I can’t help but envision some personifying mischievousness within animals I am describing as critters.
Exhibit A: A healthy, strapping young watermelon. The world is its oyster.
Exhibit B: DISASTER STRIKES. And by disaster, i mean critters. Evil, scheming, conniving critters.
We think it is the work of rats. We’ve sort of given up trying to keep them out at this point, since its nearly impossible– our plot is in the middle of Harvard Square, and Harvard Square is filled with rats. The first few times I saw a rat scurrying across the plot headed toward our late-night movie-watching contingent sprawled out on the grass, I will admit I freaked out a bit. Since then, we’ve had weekly night visits from Ratatouille, as some have suggested we dub him. There are holes in the bottom corners of a number of beds, which we have tried in vain to fill in an effort to discourage our rat friends from coming back. Luckily, we haven’t had any serious gnawing issues. The rats stay on the ground, the vegetables stay in the beds. Until now. We grew watermelons succesfully last year, so I am not exactly sure why the rats (or whatever critters are doing this) are striking now.
This song has been on my mind the past few days, given the intense weather we have experienced here in the normally cold and dreary Boston. If people can’t complain about the cold or the dreariness, they will complain about the heatwave! I just can’t find it within me to complain about warmth and sunshine when I spend so much time the rest of the year wishing it would come back. So I welcomed the heatwave with open arms. As did our heat-loving vegetables!
Sam and I were on a trip to New York City during the hottest part of the heatwave, and when we came back, everything had exploded! Figuratively, of course. Literal zucchini explosions would probably not have been the best, though our zukes did get so big it looked like they were on the verge of spontaneous combustion.
Below are some photos from the plot taken over the past few days. Our warm weather crops are really pulling through now, and seem to be doubling in size every day. Peppers! Cucumbers! Eggplant, oh lord, those glorious, beautiful eggplants! And the hallowed tomato. Sam and I enjoyed our first ripe tomato today, a squat Cosmonaut Volkov that was just this side of fully ripe. We couldn’t resist! It was tangy and sweet, and a most appreciated welcome back to the garden after our time away.
Our first fairytale eggplants are fruiting. The blossoms are beautiful in their own right, but the light purple fruit are going to steal the show when they reach their full potential.
Our sugar baby watermelon seem to triple in size every 24 hours. I think if I sat and stared at one for an afternoon I would see it stretch and grow before my very eyes.
Our wildflower border has taken off in the midsummer heat. Where only six or seven days ago it seemed scraggly, green, full of stems and void of colorful potential, we now have bursting bouquets of bright orange, deep blue, sunny yellow and creamy white. And our sunflower stalks are growing taller by the day!! I cannot wait for them to bloom. We may love our vegetables, but there’s something about the flower border that gets people off the street and into the garden. It is warm, inviting, and brings a wild, unplanned look to the prim and proper cobbled streets of Harvard square.