Everything has its season

Perhaps it is the ephemeral quality of autumn that is part of the reason I like it so much. I am reflecting on the seasons this morning, as the first dusting of snow still clings to the rosebush outside my window. Two days ago, Monday, the storm forecast came online, and I ran several scenarios through my mind of how to spend that last, warm, glorious fall day with the trees still holding on to the full flush of color. My daughter’s school is in half-day scheduling all week, so I thought of spending the afternoon with her riding bikes down the river path or visiting a pumpkin patch someplace.

Then I realized I have a garden. And certain things are supposed to happen right around now.

Notice the use of passive voice here. I’m not what you might call an avid gardener, more like a half-hearted flirt with the idea. At times I’ve been capable of throwing myself whole-heartedly into the digging and composting, and at other times it just seems like another hassle. But I’ve been pushed and pulled recently back into the gardening realm—stubborn students insisted on building an organic farm at UNR, despite my efforts to talk them out of it. Peer pressure (the downside of being friends with horticulturalists and master gardeners) and a penchant for Michael Pollan’s books have inspired me once again to take up the shovel and launch another attempt at a crop of organic veggies. Neighbors may be relieved to know that I have not yet had cause to resort to Bruce Van Dyke’s rodent-prevention tactics.

So, Monday afternoon ended up being that day of tying up loose ends before the winter hit. The daughter and I harvested two big grocery bags of apples, the remaining chard, and (astonishingly) a pint of raspberries. I finally planted the serviceberry bush that had been sitting in its pot since June, the strawberries suffering a similar fate, and the garlic cloves I bought at the Great Basin Co-op festival a couple of weeks ago, plus a cover crop of rye on the raised bed that I hand-dug back in the spring when the apple trees were blossoming and full of bees.

I might have gotten a little carried away. The winds kicked up—that kind of warm wind that frequently blows in before a cold front around here—and I threw another load of laundry out on the line. When it finally started to cool off, I went inside and roasted two pumpkins from Lattin’s Farm and a butternut squash from Tom Stille’s Mayberry farm and made a batch of salsa from the last crop of tomatoes. The whole afternoon put me in a reflective mood. I can’t say I’m unhappy with the fruits of my labor, but I certainly didn’t get quite the diverse harvest I originally planned for back in the spring. It’s the damn tomatoes—I’m such a sucker for them that I let them take over the entire bed, and it really doesn’t get enough sunlight to do them justice. I harvested one or two red and yellow ones, but the vast majority came out green and had to ripen in the garage. Meanwhile, like a badly-planned condominium development, their vines towered six feet on supports, blocking all the light to their neighbors. But I did get more than enough chard to make me happy. Love the home-grown chard.

Now that it’s all put down for the winter, I am plotting my next move. That lawn in the front yard is in my crosshairs as it has been all summer. The Brandywines need a new home.