Every day this month has brought a new hint of the change of seasons, a firm farewell to summer, and a gradual lead up to the autumn equinox. Perhaps it’s more like a wind down, a slowing of nature’s pulse. The first leaves curl at the edges and our wood floors are cool under my bare feet. I still wake too early, but now the birds are quiet and it’s cool and dark as I venture outside. I see the moon before I see the sun. A few stars remain. Crumpled brown leaves blow in from a new direction and collect in the front entryway. Clouds merge and blow apart, holding more moisture, though still no rain. The sky is a lighter shade of blue. I throw my flannel shirt in the car when I go out, just in case.
The arrival of the equinox reminds me it’s time to give thanks to the garden and the gardener as the plants give their last gasp. After being away, I’m seeing all the work in front of us: the weeds, the shriveled eggplant, the holes in the peppers, the mildew on the zucchini leaves, the flowering basil, the bean vines weighing down the trellis so it breaks, the sprinkler heads that stopped working, the mud showing through the bark chips, the weeds, the flowers that need deadheading, wilted iris mess to clear away, and crops that need to be picked, washed, trimmed, cooked, and frozen. And did I mention the weeds? And can we win a race with the rains?
But then I recall what I learned from raising and homeschooling kids. It;s always easy to see what they’re NOT doing, NOT learning, NOT achieving. I had to train myself – what ARE they doing, what ARE they learning? It was truly amazing from that perspective. Soon I could grant myself that same grace, and stopped looking at what I can’t do, don’t do, haven’t done yet (though this part takes continual practice).
Now it’s time to grant that generosity to the garden, and walk through the jungle of it with a deep appreciation for ruby reds, glowing golds, lush greens. For the way my hands carry the unique scent of tomato dust and basil perfume. Time to delight in the miracle of nature, backyard gardens, life cycles that never cease, and recall the children that ran and played and feasted among the garden beds. And give appreciation to the gardener and chef that I married.
Here you see the best of the best, our yard perhaps looking like something out of Sunset Magazine, only the successes and the succulence, the succor our full freezer will bring us in the cold winter months to come, when we taste the summer love, and remember only the magic of it all.