Friday, September 22, 2006

Autumn on the Way

Autumn on the Way
Tina Sams

Autumn is breathing down our necks. The air feels different, and it smells like fall. The light has changed, and feels more filtered. The vegetable vines are turning brown. The neighboring farmers are bringing in the corn and the roadside stands are covered with pumpkins and corn shocks. The mums are up. Autumn is such a refreshing change after the long hot summer… or at least it used to be. I’m not ready yet. It was just getting to be really fun!

You see, for four long years I lived in a townhouse with no garden. There were containers all over the patio, but the grounds were maintained by men with sprayers and equipment. Even putting small barriers up didn’t save my little plants from their weed whackers. This past summer I moved to my own version of Shangri-La. The dirt is rich and fertile – and I can plant anything my heart desires.

In fact, the garden was started 2 full months before I moved. There was no plan, mind you, just planting “stuff” with wild abandon, like a starving woman who had wandered up to a buffet table. All of the perennials will need to be moved, but the point was to plant. Tomatoes, peas, beans, peppers, and melons went in along with several kinds of squash and two kinds of eggplants. Now, I’d never eaten eggplant, but they look so pretty… In went a big patch of Jerusalem Artichokes, herbs for the kitchen, herbs for medicine, and herbs for planting. Heaven on earth, here I am.

Everyday – no matter what the weather – found me in the garden for a couple of hours. Weeding was bliss after all those barren years. There were bean runners to be lovingly trained to the trellis, tomatoes to tie to the fence, and melons to guard from the resident groundhog. The wild veggies like lamb’s quarters, dandelion, and purslane added to divine dinners of squash, beans, corn, and tomatoes. The eggplants started producing and I was given great recipes, finding them delicious.

As the summer progressed, it became necessary to force produce on anyone stopping by. The mother of one of my daughter’s friends couldn’t get out the driveway without some squash, lots of basil and a watermelon – at least. I started stealthily leaving stuff behind when I visited others. We made LOTS of pickles. I got a canner.

But now I notice the days are shortening. The garden is still full of ripening veggies, and the herbs are spread all over the place. It won’t be long though. Soon it will be over. Then what? Am I going to have to finish unpacking from the move? Yikes.

Next year will be different. There will be a plan. The squash won’t need to fight with the lavender and the peas will have their own trellis before they start to need it.

Well! Look at that. I’m already excited about next year. I just can’t figure out what to do until it gets here.