Heart-stopping temperatures

I’m a bit preoccupied with the weather. I check the forecast several times a day. I pay close attention to the predicted overnight temps, whether there will be clouds or not, how strong the winds will be, if and how much precipitation is expected. I look at what’s predicted for Boston and Bedford. Based on these forecasts, I guess what will happen in Belmont. I use our government’s weather service through the NOAA website — http://forecast.weather.gov

This time of year I’m mostly concerned about overnight temps. My hoophouse isn’t heated and when the temp drops below 32 degrees I cover all the seedlings with row cover, old quilts and blankets, say special prayers, make ritual offerings to the weather gods, promise my first-born son, you know, the kinds of things we all do to bring good luck. (Oh come on, you do too!) This method has worked well so far.

I did have a heart-stopping temperature experience one recent morning. I was studying the hour-by-hour temperature readings of the previous evening. (I’ve already admitted that I’m a bit preoccupied with the weather.) I scanned the report and saw that the temp had dropped to 20 degrees at 6 AM. I stopped breathing. I think my heart stopped beating. Visions of dead seedlings filled my mind. I whispered, then yelled, “Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.” The predicted low had been 30 degrees. I hadn’t taken all the super-duper precautions required for a 20 degree night! How could the National Weather Service prediction have been so wrong?!?!

Turns out I was looking at the wrong column. Rather than temperature, I’d been looking at the dewpoint. The overnight temperature only got down to 31 degrees. What a relief.

It is predicted to get down to 24 degrees tonight. You better believe I’m ready. Those little seedlings are well protected this evening: Layers of row cover over them, space heaters under some of the benches, barrels of water under other benches (the water has retained the day’s heat and will radiate it throughout the night). Prayers have been said, rituals observed.

Sleep well little seedlings.