Photo: Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

These are the times that try gardeners's souls. Fearsome August will take possession of our weather for a dreadful 31 days. Hydrangeas will melt. Tomato plants shall shrivel. Lawns will combust. Not everywhere, though. Just where you are. To understand why, you must do as Grumpy did. You must talk to the clouds.

The clouds say, "You humans think we owe you. We don't owe you one damn thing. When you sip your gin and tonic, do you thank clouds for the water that made the ice cubes? No. When you pump so much of our water into the ground that poor Oklahoma starts rocking like Stevie Ray Vaughan, do you consult the clouds? No. When we forget to drop our water over your farmlands, you seed us with silver iodide to force us to. That doesn't work. That just ticks us off."

The clouds say, "You think you know all about us, but you don't. You describe us as "angry," "lustful," "ominous," "gloomy," and even "poofy." Poofy? Oh, please. In fact, the overarching character of a cloud is a keen sense of humor and eternal perversity."

The clouds say, "With your weather radar and supercomputers, you still haven't a clue what we will do. How many people desperate for rain see a big red blob heading in their directions on the Weather Channel and wail, "It's coming right for us! There's no way it can miss!" And then before their anguished, incredulous eyes, we split and pass to either side, spilling nary a drop on their parched gardens. We do this day after day."

emAnother unsatisfied customer. Photo:

The clouds say, "Our favorite maneuver is the 'doughnut hole.' This is when, laden with rain, one of us splits, passes you on each side, and then reforms on the top and bottom, encircling you with showers you can see, but never feel. That just cracks us up. Oh, and let's not forget 'the curtain.' This is when we drop a shaft of rain at the end of your street that never moves an inch towards your garden before it stops. You drop to your knees in supplication, but no rain for you today."

The clouds say, "But do not mistake our humor for cruelty. We will rain on you. We will rain on you a lot. When you're lying on a beach. When you're moving into a new house. When you've just lit a campfire. When you're painting your garage. When you're at an outdoor wedding. When hay lies in the fields. When you're on a long hike without rain gear. When you're free-climbing El Capitan and halfway up."

The clouds conclude, "But mostly, we'll rain in winter when plants are dormant and don't need the water. It has always been this way. It always will. Get used to it."

Thus spake the clouds.