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Naming Rights


News alert! I have been known to be obsessed with weather, and weather reporting. Why is everybody laughing? Stop that. I’m serious here.

I’m the kind of guy who wants to experience the minus 25 F freeze-o-rama and the 110 F meltdown outside, so I can say I actually lived it. Then, after about two minutes, I want to duck back into my cozy living room with a suitable hot or cold beverage and watch the coverage on TV. Hey, I’m crazy but I’m not nuts.

I can’t say the same about the big-time weather operation on television. You know which operation I’m talking about. Let’s call them “Mega-Weather.” They lash reporters to street signs in 200 mph winds for the fun of it, give them mitts and tell them to go outside and catch baseball-sized chunks of hail, and would like to launch them into space to get them closer to solar flares. However, Mega-Weather doesn’t own rockets. Yet.

Anyway, Mega-Weather started naming winter storms, the way that hurricanes have been named for decades. Why? Uhhh … because they lost a bet? Because the winter storms felt dissed by the warm-season hurricanes? Because television marketing is an uncontrollable beast that will someday devour this planet, Mars and parts of Jupiter? (Warning: don’t let Mega-Weather acquire rockets!) The result is that you can now turn on your TV and prepare to be slammed by Winter Storm Sponge Bob, watch Ziggy Snowdust spreading over the Great Plains or hunker down as Nosferatu envelops your city. Lock your doors, kids.

But I do pride myself on being quick to sell out … er … adapt. Once I stopped weeping over the concept of 2w inches of snow on my sidewalk having a name, I realized that Mega-Weather might be onto something.

If you’re a gardener, you know that the gardening season is filled with momentous occasions – the first time that the ground is warm enough for squirrels to dig up your crocus bulbs, the last cold snap that blasts your tender perennials, the first appearance of powdery mildew, the dry spell while you’re out of town that wipes out half of your vegetable garden, the attempt to remove an old shrub that throws out your back, the arrival of a few hundred thousand aphids, and on and on.

Wonderful memories! Why shouldn’t all of these events have names, too?

For instance, when you start to harden your seedlings in the spring by leaving them outdoors and you miscalculate and a cold snap hits and freezes the tiny pots with their even tinier occupants to the metal tray that you were using to hold water, you could call that event Dreamsicle. “Oh, yeah, remember Dreamsicle in March? That absolutely wiped out my begonias. Good times.”

Here are a few more names and the kind of events that might inspire them:

Big Bopper

The paperboy’s aim is somewhat erratic and he takes out your prize (fill in the blank) plant. “The Big Bopper really got my year off to a lousy start.”

Gollum

Think of something “precious” in your yard and the many ways it could be destroyed – by water, by your neighbor’s kid, by your neighbor’s dog, by your neighbor, by the cable guy … I think you get the picture. By the way, if you’re not familiar with Lord of the Rings, I can’t help you.

They Call the Wind “How Are Ya?”
A gust that ordinary folks would think of as a pleasant spring breeze can wipe out a couple of years of horticultural planning, especially if you leave your plants sitting on your porch railing. Been there, done that.

Caligula

Deer? Horses? Cows? Feral cats? Your neighbor’s kids? (Funny how kids seem to be connected to tragic horticultural circumstances.) At any rate, think about something tender and vulnerable getting trampled by something and name that event after your favorite Roman emperor. We all have one, right?

Beelzebub

Hmm. This would have to do with digging a deep, deep hole somewhere and encountering a water or gas main. Just guessing.

Uncle Fester

Ah! Dat ol’ debil attack of the killer fungus among us. Happens to me every year! “Do you remember getting a visit from Uncle Fester in July?”

Lo’laHbe’ghach

This is actually a Klingon word (you can look it up!) meaning “worthlessness.” It could be applied to a whole gardening year that didn’t go particularly well. Try it at your next cocktail party: “Wow. That was a wicked hard Lo’laHbe’ghach! Got another bottle of chechtlhutlh?”

Trust me. You’ll be the talk of the neighborhood.

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