The concept of the classical elements started in several ancient cultures. There are four elements that every culture agreed on: earth, air, fire and water. I’ve come to realize that the Greeks et al. knew of what they spoke. In my adventures in gardening and yard maintenance, I have done battle with each of these.
Earth is my poor-quality soil and all the weeds therein. I have spent hours digging and weeding. And still the weeds return, and the St. Augustine grass grows where it isn’t wanted. The battle never ends.
Air is the soggy Florida climate. The air element, according to Wikipedia, is primarily wet and secondarily hot. Wet and hot – the ancient Greeks must have traveled to Florida in August at some point, and the records are just lost to history. Wet and hot is the perfect description of our air in the summer. When people say, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,” that’s primarily wet and secondarily hot, all right. Wet, hot air makes it difficult to perform any sustained activity outdoors – sustained being more than 15 minutes. I can’t get much done in 15 minute increments. This battle does end, though, in late October, when the days become delightful. It’s in October through December that we are reminded why we
Air and Fire
live in Florida. But then May comes, and Air rears its ugly head again.
Fire is the sun. Fire can leave you with burns, and the sun can leave you with sunburns. It can also leave other evidence of its power. I have a true gardener’s tan. I have lines on my legs above the knees from shorts, and above the ankles from socks. I have lines on my arms, above the elbow from shirt sleeves and above the wrists from my gardening gloves. I’d look ridiculous in a swimsuit (even if I had one that fit, which I don’t). I don’t wear sunscreen on my arms or legs, even though I should. The reason is that I wear Off on my arms and legs, and I don’t want to combine chemicals. (My arms and legs might spontaneously combust. I’d rather not deal with that brand of fire.) I’d rather risk sunburn and have weird tan lines than risk mosquito bites and get West Nile virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The sun is going to be my good friend soon, though, when my solar cooker comes.
Water is the rain. We’ve had higher than normal rainfall this summer, which is good, since we were very dry for the last two years. The only problem is that rain encourages the weeds and the St. Augustine grass to continue to spread their evil. Hence, we complete the circle, back to do battle with the earth.
Isn’t it great how nature is all connected?
Excuse me while I go work on my gardener’s tan.