L to R: Eggplant, Parsley, Red Bell Peppers, Fingerling Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Butternut Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Kabocha Squash, Radishes, Lettuce, Salad Mix, Arugula, Slicing Tomatoes, Chile Peppers.
At this time of year, I always have trouble getting my bearings. The signals are mixed. Cultural “summer” is over, because school has started, yet the calendar says autumn is still over a week away. The potatoes, onions and winter squash are starting to pile up, but there are salad greens and lettuce and radishes in the house, always the first signs of an accelerating growing season. Nature is starting her annual bedtime ritual, with leaves starting to change color and fall to the ground, grasses, weeds, and herbs shifting gears to turn flowers into seeds, the mornings cool enough to need a bathrobe over my pajamas. Soon the yard will turn from green to brown to white, in silent slumber, waiting for spring.
But the human world spins into overdrive at this time of year, with school shopping, morning and afternoon schedules requiring more discipline and structure (and patience), fall festivals leading into Halloween, leading into Thanksgiving, leading into Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice (a spiritual choose-your-own-adventure), shopping, cooking, travelling, eating, meeting, greeting, parties, decorating, wash, rinse, repeat, until the morning of January 1, exhausted and headachy, I sit with my coffee in silence, wondering if there’s another way.
Nature is folding up her tent, not decking it out with starry lights and baubles. She’s already thrown her extravagant, glorious garden party, and now she’s cleaning up after it. On farms in this part of the country, this is the time fields are gleaned for any last treasures, plants turned under, hay cut and baled. We pay some lip service (rake service?) to this if we have yards to tidy up before it snows, raking up leaves, pulling up spent flower and vegetable plants, mowing the lawn once more, maybe putting in some new bulbs, for tulips and daffodils and garlic, before the ground freezes, ending the season for good. Then Nature waits. Sleeps. Rests. Gathers strength and life from without and within.
Ramping up or winding down? Starting or finishing? Coming or going? There are two different drummers playing here, with incompatible rhythms, and I seem to always dance to the wrong one. I stumble and weave my way across autumn’s dance floor, rarely making it to the other side without breaking a heel or putting a run in my nylons. There I sit in a vacant chair, and just wait for the dance to end so I can collect my coat and bag, and crawl home and into my bed. Like Nature.
I’ll see you (dancing?) on down the Road.