Sunday, October 13, 2019

The End Has Come

This scene is no more.

The decaying corpses of these plants still stand... for the moment... but the brilliance of their photosynthesizing life is gone. Our first freeze of the season arrived yesterday morning and summer is truly gone, taking with it the last of the summer vegetables and tender annuals such as these. To the right of the red amaranth are -- were -- bell peppers. To the left of the golden marigolds were nasturtiums and eggplant; all now slain by the freeze.

Gone are the okra, tomatoes (many of which I took down weeks ago), watermelon, long beans, and cantaloupe. The cucumbers, which provided an overwhelming harvest, have been gone (to my relief) for a few weeks, as well.

Often I am reluctant to let go of summer, especially when the first frost/freeze comes early, as this one did. I drag sheets and blankets out to the garden to save the peppers and at least some of the tomatoes, as well as any other summer resident that I deem worthy.

Tomatoes, zinnias and nasturtiums. All now gone.
Not this year. I felt almost relieved when the first frost showed up in the forecast. I dug the sweet potatoes, picked a half bushel or more of green and not quite green peppers, as well as a gallon of hot peppers. I picked a few green tomatoes -- only the two Brandywine, and two Sun Gold plants were left, anyway. Gathered the last okra pods and any other summer vegetable, as well the red raspberries which were still putting on new berries. I went to bed Friday night feeling ready.

When I went out the next morning and found the nasturtiums and melons that shared a bed, melted and dead, I felt no remorse. Instead I felt a surge of joy, a soaring lightness. I felt eager to begin the clearing away. No longer will I feel the urgency of harvesting and processing the summer crops.

That didn't end my harvesting, however. Kale, cabbage, lettuce, bok choy, turnips, carrots, winter radishes, and a few others still grow, made all the better tasting for the chill. These I hope to keep going well into winter with some protection. Plus I have all the summer bounty tucked away in the freezer, or dehydrated and sitting in jars on the pantry shelf. I think I can eat until next season's harvest begins.

Nasturtiums, peppers, okra (background), and datura. Only the leeks (showing
 just behind the peppers and datura) remain
The only thing I will miss are the zinnias, those brilliant flower fireworks. On Friday evening, as dusk deepened I gathered in zinnias, so now (for the first time this year, can you believe it?) bouquets of zinnias are scattered about the house, along with a couple of vases of deep purple twice-blooming iris.

It's time to turn inward, into the house, into my heart, into my soul. Oh you can bet I've still got plenty to do in the garden -- fences to remove and erect, clearing to do -- the tasks never end. But it's all without urgency. I can afford to turn inward.

This afternoon I sat in the middle of the garden, sun warming my shoulders, my eyes closed, and felt the green energy sinking down, into the earth. I embraced the change of seasons, and heard the whole world breathe a contented sigh as it snuggles in, to rest.

Soon the evidence of that movement downward, inward will be apparent as leaves turn color, then fall. The kale and other cold-season vegetables will eventually be shrouded -- first in white, then in plastic -- to give them just a little extra time to grow. The leeks, carrots and radishes will all be dug, and a fire will roar in our stove. All in their time.

Today, however, I will sit in the sun and let summer go.