A Paradox

October 13, 2010

Really whacked out in the garden right now. I’ve never planted fall vegetables before and it’s a weird juxtaposition of tender new growth and old drying dying, almost like those photographs of four generations from family reunions.

The beans are beautiful, the leaves lush and green and stems covered with white blossoms. The tomatoes ripen, the brussel sprouts swell, the peas reach for the supports. In this little patch, everything is still growing, still hoping, still producing.

There was rain this morning when I left the house, one of those days when you think you’ll get an entire day full, to make the ground soggy and mushy by the end of it. Instead, mere hours later, everything was arid and parched again, with only a puddle along the curb to remind me of that promise in the morning. The soil had sucked every bit in and looked just as packed and thirsty as yesterday.

I pulled back the bird netting last night while the hamburgers were on the grill, just in that small upper pond. No pump, so I’m not making a huge mess again or starting from scratch, but just about three square feet of shallow water to give everyone a place to take a sip, a dip, a bath. I placed a brick on the edge of the net, in the thin passage between the small pond and the connecting stream. I am willing to muck out this area in the spring. They are coming back already, just in a day.

I did get that netting down on the right weekend however, since my neighbor’s tree dropped almost every leaf in the last two days and about 80% of them seemed to float directly into the pond. The net is now starting to sink under the weight of those leaves.

Our tree in the parkway has done the same thing – shedding every leaf in a remarkably short period of time. The leaves hide the grass almost completely, in a scattered circle of gold. We see the hidden secrets in the branches now, a tiny nest that makes me think of tiny birds unseen all summer.

The bellflowers are continuing their show, now in a different way. The leaves are amber and stand out from the coneflowers. The butterfly garden is no longer pink and yellow and purple, but burgundy, gold and wine. The clematis seed heads are ecru and fluffier each day.

The spyria is an orgy of fall colors, all on one plant. There is forest and lime and amber and champagne, scarlet and claret and russet and blonde. It makes one think of walks in the woods, the smell of earth and of mold.

For a week now, that window of weather had swung wide, giving us temperatures into the high 80’s – summer again without bugs or humidity. It was the perfect weather, unlooked for and sincerely appreciated. Today, that shut again, leaving us to grab umbrellas in the morning and hurry in sweatshirts in the evening.

I talked to a client who mentioned the impending winter. I thought about it after the conversation was over, looking out of the window. While I still have fresh vegetables growing, I will be living in an alternate universe type of summer for weeks yet. And really, when that first snowflake falls, it will just be getting me closer to spring.

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