Bits and Pieces

November 5, 2010

I start out the back door and realize I have no “film” in my camera, so head back inside to retrieve it. Lucky dances by the back door, trying to decide if he wants to brave the cold to be near me, or stay inside where it’s warm, whining through the window. I make the executive decision and he stays inside.

He is feeling fine after a trip to the vet and pain relievers and antibiotics for what they think was spinal meningitis. Really? In a dog? Thankfully, we didn’t come anywhere near a “dollars or death” decision, so he’ll be around to urinate all over the house in poodle-like frenzy for years to come. SIGH….

The faucet barks as I turn on the water, hose still trailing to that transplanted hydrangea. We had a spit of rain yesterday and a splatter the day before, but for all intents and purposes, we’re still in a drought situation.

This week, I’ve been spending just a burst of time, here or there, in the garden. It is cold and windy; that bone-chilling first nip of fall when you realize you may have squandered a beautifully warm, perfect day in the past few months – and there will be none in the foreseeable future. Today has a bitter bite to it. I stick my hands in my pockets, lined with fleece, and walk the garden.

A pin oak leaf is stuck in a drying catmint plant, like a woodsy accent in a haze of lace. There is a sprout of new growth on the gaillardia – someone very late to the party. How unfortunate and embarrassing.

I harvested more green tomatoes on Monday and made tomatoes with onions and cilantro as a side for our taco dinner. Really not bad.

Tuesday morning, I asked Eliza if she’d like fried green tomatoes (we had those last week), green tomato soup, green tomato casserole or stuffed green tomatoes for dinner. She said she would prefer never to see another green tomato ever in her lifetime.

That afternoon, I pulled out the wilting, drooping and black pepper plants and threw them in the compost bin. Anything healthy was taken off the basil plants and the plants were composted too. The basil leaves were rubberbanded at the stems, placed in a paper bag (the ones they use to protect wine bottles from clinking are perfect) with the stems poking through and hung on a wire hanger (no….wire….hangers…ever!) in the guest closet (It’s where we keep our guests – ba dum bump). It smells sweet when you open the door now, like a caprese salad.

On Wednesday, I harvest all the rest of the spinach, to make pan-seared sea scallops with spinach – oh tasty. (Does my family really appreciate what a good cook I am?) I pulled out all the dead bean plants, destroyed by the frost. I planted those too late this year, but that lesson was only $1.69, the cost of the seeds. The peas are loving this chilly weather and are growing well, with no hint of frost. The brussel sprouts are HUGE and I’m thinking we’ll eat them Sunday. I didn’t bring in any more tomatoes.

Thursday, I shredded a 6 inch stack of financial statements from years past and added those to the compost bin.

Today, I pull out the tomato plant, having a difficult time shaking it free of the cage.  The stem scrapes and splits, a burst of acidic, oh-so-tomato-plant smell hits me and the fragrance covers my hands. I love that smell. It is a perfume of summer, of juicy red tomatoes, of warmth and light and sunshine. Dozens of fruits fall off the fine, bounce all over the bed, settle in the dirt. I can’t take the waste. My hands and fingers are chilled and uncomfortable after I dump the vine into the compost bin, so I put my hands back into my pockets to warm them up. The tomatoes on the ground are just killing me, so I pick up about 8 of the most perfect and put them in my pockets too. There is no room for my hands now and it is cold. I turn the spigot on at the bottom of the big rain barrel to drain it – the water gushes out. At least the lawn is getting a good drench.

I head to the front of the house, into the sunshine. It is really no warmer. The sedum dries deeper and deeper burgundy. The trumpet vine has accomplished a big bunch of nothing this year, but it was its year to creep. Next year should be a leap – I hope it’s true.

The peonies look covered with a fine grey dust, drying and dying, sucking in all the sunshine to feed those roots for next year.

It is cold, so I hustle around to the back of the house. No hope of a good downpour for at least a week, so I leave the hose in place as I turn off the water.

I’m going to make a green tomato casserole and freeze it for Thanksgiving. Eliza will give sincere thanks that they are all gone.

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