My phone buzzes with a text message. I normally love getting text messages but this one sent us for a tailspin.
It was July 2nd, and the County issued a stay at home warning right before the Fourth of July weekend. The county texted residents TWICE for emphasis. I didn’t think much about it until the phones at the office began to ring. And just like that, our already restricted schedule began to fall apart.
Our front team had worked so hard to rebuild the schedule after our return from the quarantine and shut down. With scheduling limitations put on us by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, our once robust schedule had been pared down to allow time for disinfection and PPE changes, and limited dentists to starting and finishing the same patient before examining or treating another patient. Like most dentists, I normally work between rooms of restorative patients and hygiene rooms. Staying in one place is unusual for me.
As I watched the schedule fall apart, doubt started to rise to the surface. My PPP money was carefully spent and we had a successful return to the practice. What if the state of Texas closed businesses again? Would we be able to recover? Did I leave the sanctuary of my home and garden only to wait for the other shoe to drop?
Hot summer brings a new challenge to the garden. I buy succulents instead of roses. Exotic Pride of Barbados and Yellow Bells dance in my hot garden beds. Salvia Indigo Spires readies itself for a fall display. Crepe myrtles live up to their “Lilac of the South” reputation, and the Bougainvillea breaks free from its restraints. Confederate Star Jasmine vine teases with the promise of new growth by producing shocking seed pods. The red Turk’s Cap flowers bob over my garden path, and Liriope unfurls its lavender spikes. Purple Sage in bloom, with its sweet perfume, signals a much needed summer shower. It’s hard to tear myself away.
Here in Austin, we are on a restricted watering scheduling. Life on top of an aquifer, and surrounded by lakes seems at odds with a restriction in watering, but protecting our precious resource is a year-round issue. Water becomes a real challenge in summer, and a peek out my back window reveals my Oak Leaf Hydrangeas and Turk’s Cap wilting and waiting for our watering day. To be honest, I’m wilting too, but it’s not the heat, or lack of water that’s causing me to wilt.
After such a booming return to business, and a goal breaking June and July, our fall schedule looks like the dry patches in my garden beds. Despite our best efforts, the September, October and November hygiene schedule threatens to be a desert. With the recent statement released by the WHO, and more concerned patient phone calls and emails, it’s getting harder to look past the cracks in the schedule, just as I can’t look past the cracks in my hot summer soil.
Like all gardeners, I analyze the garden, make adjustments and amend the soil as needed. Instead of a desert in the garden or in the schedule, let’s create some xeriscape beauty. I search for plants that need less water, succulents and cacti, rock beds and pathways. Looking ahead at the xeriscape practice schedule, I see opportunities for team training, for socially distanced retreats and pathways for CE in new procedures and techniques.
This xeriscape time is a blessing – for my gardens, for my practice, and for me.