September 22, 2010

Yesterday was the last day of summer, hot and stuffy and turn-the-air-on weather. Today is the first day of fall, chilly, wet and slow.

It seems that very year, the arrival of fall is clean, the thump of the equinox almost resounding in the air. Where springs slowly arrives, creeping tentatively and hesitantly, warmer weather mixed with blizzards, fall weather just turns, like the slamming of a door. While we may have some warm days left, there will always be that edge, that evening chill, the nighttime frosts.

I am halfway through. I have just two more seasons to explore in the garden and then this project will be finished. It does not seem like it’s been six months. There has been no moment of “gosh, what can I possibly write about?” There has been so much that I’ve learned. So much has come and gone. We are in the dying season now and I wonder how it will be to document the garden during the winter months. Will there be new adventures? Will there still be amazing surprises and gifts from those garden gods?

Looking out at the garden, I think of all the flowers that have been and are no more – just a blaze of glory and then gone. It is rather like friendships. When you think of the span of your life, you remember those people that were just so important in your life when you were 8, 16, 20, 32 – and now they are gone – moved on. Perhaps their life situation no longer matches yours, perhaps you just don’t live nearby anymore, no longer work at the same company. They were that beautiful blaze and now they’ve disappeared.

The autumn clematis is already browning, smelling sweeter and tangier every day. It rained this morning and now the brussel sprouts hold in their leaves crystal clear pools of water, gentle cups pure and crisp. They reflect the indirect light and throw shades of grey and bursts of white, like perfect paintings.

The impatiens are still going and growing, leggy and mounded, pink and orange and purple. They won’t fully realize what’s coming until they are hit with a killing frost and that might not be for many weeks yet. More and more and more acorns, more and more and more squirrels. They sit in the tree, in the nest and hoarsely bark all day – in a pattern – which quite frankly starts to get on my nerves after awhile. With each bark, the tail twitches.

Fall means Homecoming which means toilet paper. The Fitz’s trees, bushes and yard were hanging with it, drapes and ropes, rolls and rolls unfurled, looking like a ticker tape parade. You can always tell who has a high school student in Tinley Park during Homecoming week. Ryan was happily pulling it down with a hockey stick, but yards of it floated into our yard too, spreading the celebration.

I notice that we have another accidental pine tree near the pond and am pleased by two deep purple clematis blooms, well past the time for buds and blooms. The garden gods have smiled.

The milkweed is yellowing, the coneflower leaves turning into a camouflage of green and black. The sunflowers lose their yellow petals and their brown faces droop toward the ground, almost as if they are embarrassed of their deteriorating condition. I watch a red ant run speedily up and down the sunflower stem, intent on his mission. The pampas grass is enormous, tall and full with blossoms spreading, like arms opening to receive the sun.

I heard a different call today, a raucous loud note, something I haven’t heard yet this year. It is a very uncommon visitor, specially for me to celebrate this first day of fall. It is a big bluejay, bright and garish, that decides to sit in the pin oak’s low branches and take a very quick dip in the pond. He is gone quickly, but leaves me feeling like there are still many wonderful things to come in this year.


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