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A Washington El Nino

July 27, 2015 - It's great to be sitting in my very own office, and writing to you from Washington state. We've been here for 3 months now, and feel very much as though we've wound up in paradise.  The views of Mt. St. Helen's, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood are spectacular, the Columbia River Gorge is incomparable, and Portland is a very fun town, albeit one that suffers from horrible traffic.  We're feeling very blessed these days, and humbled by our good fortune.

The weather here is quite different from what much of the country has endured.  Unlike the rain which has flooded so much of the middle and the south of the country, Washington is in the midst of a drought, along with Oregon and California, of course.  While our situation is nothing like California's, which is dire, there have been a number of wildfires this summer.  Farmers are getting by using irrigation, and the fruit crops look abundant to my inexperienced eyes.  I, for the first time, am the proud owner of 2 fruit trees, an apple and a pear.  The apple tree is pollinated by the extravagant number of apple trees in the area, and the pear tree is self-pollinating.  A Bartlett pear branch was grafted onto an Asian pear tree.

Our house was previously owned by non-gardeners, who did nothing in the way of pruning.  As a result, the fruit trees are tall and skinny, although they have a fair amount of fruit hanging from the branches.  A visiting garden consultant informs me I'll need to cut them in half, and cut back the branches., in order to encourage further branching.  With any luck, we have a lot of apple pies and fruit salad to look forward to.

It's funny about the sun way up north: it has a very direct feeling to it.  (When I say "way up north," I mean that we are as far north as the northern half of Maine - and Montreal.)  I notice that some of my bushes look a little sun-burned!  Generally, however, whatever you stick in the ground grows very well.  Roses especially like moisture and sun, and I have a number looking beautiful in my backyard.  I'll do a lot of experimenting in the coming years, and hope to learn a lot.

What about the impending El Nino?  Forecasts are for a warmer, slightly drier winter than usual.  I'm hoping the "slightly drier" part is true; we'll definitely be in need of precipitation by the winter, so "slightly" would be a good thing.  It seems like elsewhere in the country, the sporadic weather phenomenon may have already arrived.  Of course, our current drought may also be a part  of the bigger, El Nino picture.

How has the weather impacted you where you live?  Has it become increasingly volatile?  How so?  I'd love to hear from readers about the changes you're observing.  Thanks for your input.

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