Normally, late winter here in Sonoma County is my favorite time of year, but it’s been somewhat bittersweet this year because of the ongoing pandemic and the extreme weather affecting so many people, among other things.
We’ve had some winter rains here lately, although we hope for much more to catch up to the average. If not, we may be looking at drought again this summer and another scary wildfire season in the fall.
December through March is when we get most of our annual rainfall in Sonoma County, and it’s so refreshing when it finally comes after the long dry summer and fall. The grasses go from a dusty, crackly brown to a green so vibrant, it almost looks neon. (See my recent post: virtual tour of Sonoma County).
When you see people jogging on a hot summer day, that is not me. I will be hibernating indoors then, waiting with the shy salamanders for the season of drizzle and dewy leaves. Give me a winter rain, and I get out my galoshes and can be spotted swishing through mud puddles or having a long soggy hike replete with cold-nipped cheeks and a big smile.
The salamanders have their brush pile to repose in, and we have what is called a Sunbubble. It’s a perfect little spot for relaxing in your garden, even in the rain.
The Sunbubble is essentially a portable greenhouse pod. Maybe you’ve seen them? Ours is a standard size—just perfect for two people and a pet to hang out in (because, as you know, cats don’t meditate in the rain).
Being a greenhouse, it is also used to grow a few things in it. Last summer it was cucumbers, but this winter required some serious cheering up, so I stuffed it with bright primroses, Johnny Jump Ups, thyme, purple potato vine and blue hibiscus. I’m also trying to revive a neglected cymbidium and a small pot of pink rock orchids.
It requires some discipline on my part not to stuff it further with a jungle of plants, but we already have a great deal to maintain elsewhere and this is a place meant for uncluttered quietude. And as such, it’s a comfy place to sit and enjoy a cup of homemade chai or espresso, and do nothing other than enjoy the peace and the sounds of birds or rain — nature’s meditation.
This is it’s fourth year now and it has lived through some violent storms, one of which unearthed it from its stakes and required patching afterwards. It was time for a bit of renovation, so I emailed the company and was delighted to find that I could order a replacement covering for a nominal cost. I decided to take the occasion to spruce up the chairs as well and found some new camp chairs from REI. They rock, literally. And I sewed a new foot pillow with Sunbrella fabric using stuffing from a very old chair cushion.
Besides enjoying the rainy season in the pod, it is also a relief during gardening breaks in the summer, when afternoon winds pick up and start to drive one ’round the bend. It rarely snows here, but I’ve read that some people have these greenhouse pods in northern climes. If you do, I’d love to hear your experience on how it holds up to winter snows.
Before installing, we prepped the ground with landscaping cloth, gopher wire and a topping of gravel. Leveling the ground is good practice and one that we, um, failed at. 😉
The Sunbubble has little vents at the top you can open during hot weather. It comes with decent stakes, but our soil is sandy and riddled with gopher holes and doesn’t hold stakes well. So after the above-mentioned storm, we replaced the stakes with some heavy duty spiral ones acquired at a home improvement store. No problems since then.
Hanging some lightweight gauze fabric on the south-facing part of the inside helps filter summer sun if it gets too hot. That also creates the feeling of a protected room, if you use it as a garden sanctuary space as we do.
I don’t use it much at night, but with some rechargeable LED candles and a glass of wine or mulled cider and whoever you are sharing space with, it could make for some cozy glamping.
I hope all of you are staying safe and well, and I wish you a peaceful sanctuary, both inwardly and outwardly.
Did you miss the virtual tour of Sonoma County post?