She lives in Tinyton, a very small town north of Littleton, in a three-story Victorian that she and her late husband bought nearly sixty years ago. She's in her mid-eighties. She has a large grey cat and a small fluffy white dog and a garden, so of course we talked about dogs and cats and gardening.
"I'll need to be home this week," she said, after we suctioned the clot out of her head, "because nobody knows to water my peas."
I goggled. "You have peas?" I gasped. "Nobody has peas this time of year."
It's true. Three weeks of temperatures in the high 90's and low 100's and little to no rain has turned Bigtown, Littleton, and surrounding locales into a mesquite-flavored dustbowl. The only rivers worth swimming in are the ones that are spring-fed and have a mostly constant water level. My tomatoes gave up the ghost the second week of July, and I'm waiting for less-severe heat to plant fall crops of soft greens and crucifers.
But this woman? Has a Garden, capital G. A friend (the same age and equally as vibrant) brought pictures she'd taken with her new 4G phone, to prove to my patient that things hadn't withered and died. There in the pictures were sweet pea blossoms climbing up her fence, broccoli in the garden (note for northern gardeners: broccoli here bolts in the heat before you can pick it), a dozen pea plants on trellises, zinnias and rose bushes in full bloom, and an entire herb garden laid out like a Celtic cross. Between the patches of vegetables and the beds of flowers were the sort of grass paths you can't make without about a hundred years and a herd of sheep. In the back I could barely make out the edges of her property, which looked to be covered with wildflowers and the remains of spring bulbs. The little fluffy white dog was in some of the snapshots; in others, the big grey cat prowled along the edges of the flowerbeds.
Reader, I was gobsmacked. Her garden looked like nothing else on earth, and certainly like nothing you'd find in central Texas in the middle of August. She'd been completely aphasic when the volunteer firefighters from Tinyton brought her in, but had obviously trying to communicate something. Turns out she wanted to make sure that someone knew to water the honeydew melons.
I gave up and worshipped her when she showed me the two lemon trees, with fruit on them, that she'd smuggled from California in the trunk of her car in the mid-sixties.
She adjusted her bed jacket (do you have to wear bed jackets to be English? I mean, is it some sort of citizenship requirement?) and settled herself more comfortably on the pillows. "Well, dear," she said, "It has rained rather a lot in Tinyton this year."
The only explanation I have is that she carries the weather from Merrie Olde England with her wherever she goes.