Withering Fall and Personal Angst

August 27, 2010

The waterfall is suddenly working again. I looked out the window this morning and saw a healthy pour over the edge of the pot. Whatever was stuffing up the hose has loosened, I suppose, and we have the splash of water again in the center of the pond.

The gardening gods must have heard my angst about pond rebuilding and decided I have enough hassles in my life.

It has not rained in weeks and rain is not in the forecast until Wednesday, so I must take action. My rain barrels are empty, so I have to resort to house hoses. I unrolled the hose today and attached it to the soaker hose in the veggie garden to give that a good soak. The water misted into the spider webs around the tomato plant, lighting them up like a Christmas trees. I picked a tomato and it seemed to have a much better flavor. Maybe the cooler weather is helping them develop a sweetness.

The hydrangea is still on the IV. I forgot about it (again) last night, so it had a good three hours of trickle. Amazingly, the beds were not flooded, so I know it’s really dry out there. That hydrangea is a Jekyll and Hyde mix of healthy leaves and withered disaster. I’m not sure which one is winning, but as long as there’s one healthy leaf, I know it has a chance. I did not see the mouse today.

There are signs of impending autumn everywhere.

The fall clematis is suddenly, overnight, full of buds. Buds jump into the sky on the arbor and they cluster around our bedroom window from the trellis and then run down to the ground. They will smell so heavenly in so short a time.

The hibiscus in the front, the red one, has finished. The hibiscus in the back was a disappointment, with many blossoms initially and then everything seeming to burn out. If this happens again next year, I will consider moving them out of that dappled sun and into the front, into full, baking sunshine.

A sure sign of fall – the mums are starting to bloom, blood red in the beds.

The eupatorium is withering and drying. The coneflower turns blacker and blacker each day. The goldfinch are coming to them, more and more each day. The grasses are blooming, getting higher and brighter each day. When it is breezy, they rustle like Mammy’s petticoats in Gone With The Wind, crisp and dry and starched. When the winds blow harder, they bend and twist and spring back, fully recovered. The sun shines through the leaves and lights them up in a fluorescent green.

This morning, a squirrel bounced along the front lawn to the tree in the parkway while the windchime mirrors blinked in the sun and the chimes tinkled in the breeze. Another burst of blue delphinium in the front beds.

The Jacob’s Ladder is gone, nothing left but a pile of mulch where I mounded it to protect the roots and keep them moist. I’m hoping it will come back in the spring, to bloom in blue, but I am not finding a definitive answer about its habits in the fall. This will be a surprise next year.

A surprise now – the acorn squash vine has also disappeared, apparently dead and withered of powdery mildew. The two squash sit there, now joined by a third at the front of that bed. This weekend I will pull that out and compost it all. I’ll also check under the hostas hugging the pin oak to see if the Jack-In-The-Pulpit is putting out berries. I will try to dig those out and transplant them where the hostas won’t overcome them each year.

There is a new butterfly visitor, several Peck’s Skipper. Unlike the lone monarch there today, or the red admirals, the skippers flutter jerkily and seemed to jump from flower to flower instead of float. It was the darnedest thing. They are a different color, brown and yellow and very pop-eyed. While the monarchs are shy and difficult to photograph, the skippers take after their admiral brethren, letting me get close up and personal and seeming to preen before the camera lens.

The cicadas are having a year – and the party seems to be in my yard. I got down on the lawn face to face with one this afternoon, the bug (and me) crawling through the grass, like an Army grunt dressed in their own camouflage. They don’t seem to be able to fly anymore – they are withering into fall as well.

Fall is bringing angst here along with all that withering. Dominic is writhing in indecision over his personal essay to get accepted to a four-year university. He lays on the floor and talks into the carpet, asking me what he’ll do if he’s rejected. At those times, I feel that he has so far to go to be truly well. And then he jumps up and attacks an outline, completes research and I feel relieved and know we’re moving forward.

Eliza was given the role of student director in the fall play, but no character within the play. I did not swallow back those tears, but cried right along with her.


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