Sunday, September 27, 2009

The gathering in

by June

The day always comes. The light is so clear that every leaf, every petal seems lit from within. The few clouds enhance how blue the sky is. If the day were distilled into syrup and set on the kitchen windowsill, it would glow like honey all winter. But this is a day that cannot keep; it is the day before the first frost.

The girls and I work in the garden, disbelieving frost will happen. We remember cold. We chose the seeds when this ground was frozen. We sorted the packets and started the seeds growing on windowsills. And the year finally turned, oh joy. When the sun was higher in the sky every day, we planted the seedlings out into the warming soil. We tended the plants, harvested what budded and bloomed and turned to fruit. Rain came, and sunshine, and we were out in the garden every day. But, somehow, now, the year is turning again. Tomorrow, these supple, shining leaves will be blackened and crisp. Strong stems will look charred. One cold night will shrivel these plants we have tended for months. It will shrink them to nothing.

Our lives, too, are beginning the slow evolution of shrinking to the size of the rooms where we spend the winter. We are gathering in the last of the beans and the sunflowers and the cosmos blooming wildly. We bring as much of the outdoor bounty inside as we can manage; we don't want to be alone in there.

Maybe it's because I'm a bookish gardener, but I'm helpless against the metaphor. The earthworm burrows deeper in the compost heap and probably doesn't consider why. I do. I can't help myself. The last day in the thriving garden, as I clip the buoyant peas and search for the hidden cucumbers and roll nasturtium pods off the plants, I am wistful. Gardening is participating in the life cycle, getting our hands dirty in it, our knees sore with it, our hearts too. What comes will go. And each year the bright blue day does come that will end the season, and my girls and I go out on that day and gather in as much as we can, hoping to savor its simple goodness for a little longer. Working to bring in those few tender things, even as we feel change in the air, we pause to admire that beautiful sky and still cannot quite believe what the night will bring.


Quinn Lavigne said...

wow. so good! it reminds me that i should have gathered all of my last plants the other day...

on another my mom and i cleaned out our house today, i came across the old quiz that i gave the girls. it reminded me that school is here, and that i would be willing, if wanted, to work with them in math once again. let me know, and i will look at my busy life and find a time to catch up with you.

i love your blog!!!!

Dawn Suzette said...

This is always what I imagined gardening would be like in the seasons. Growing up and living most of my adult life in So. California it was a year round kind of endeavor but all the books always talked about the seasons and things you need to do to transition, etc...
You are a great inspiration to get planning next years garden here in Nova Scotia... it is going to be a much different experience for me. Thanks so much for sharing!

Unknown said...

Our first frost is probably coming Tuesday or Wednesday night. When it does, summer will truly be over. It would be so sad if I didn't love fall so much!

Daphne said...

I described myself as wistful too - also happy since I love the weather and the leaves. The season really does bring out that emotion as the garden fades. Winter is just around the corner. I think of winter as the season of dreams. I read books and catalogs and dream about what is to come. It never turns out like I expect. It always surprises me.

Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

Beautiful post. Love your descriptions..and because I don't garden (lived my early life in Arizona)now that I live in Utah and we really "see" the seasons, I can appreciate what you wrote and long for the time that I have my own little garden. Your carrots and your bounty looks inviting and colorful.

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

Gardening is an adventure into terms like certain and uncertain, luck and fate, effort and result.... Lovely post! ~bangchik

Toni said...

So beautifully written! Thank you for sharing this post!

We had our first frost mid-September. I now have my beds covered up at night.

Heather said...

Thats how it is here too! It should be frosting tonight or tomorrow so it seems there is much to do! Enjoy your autumn!

Magnolia Handspun said...

Lovely post.
What a wonderful harvest you have had....thank you for sharing your mouth watering recpies with us.
I can so relate to what you said about shrinking into the size of the will be hard after having the big sky as our roof for the past 5 months...

Linda said...

I love experiencing the turning year, and you describe it so beautifully.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful eulogy to the passing of the seasons: I am sighing at the romance of it all as I type!

Wren said...

So very beautiful. I am drinking it all in. The thunderstorms and rain rolled in this morning - with it too - the wind. The garden seems forever ago already, despite a few things remaining. Hanging on to the green on the trees as long as I can... Love the photo of your harvest!

Anonymous said...

how poetic June! i could get lost in your words. the colors and sentiments you shared are dancing through my mind. I love the idea of you bringing your bounty in to keep you company.

i have a favorite quote and i don't know who to attribute it to, it was on a card i got from my sister it said:

"come in, I would like my roses to meet you". i love the idea of your plants sharing your home with you.

JGH said...

You did a great job describing a feeling that is sometimes so hard to put into words. I felt it too today when I picked a few dinky cucumbers still on the vine that have clearly decided to stop growing.

farmama sara said...

I always feel sad going to bed knowing that when we wake Jack frost will have nipped the plants. You have a great way with words June!....and I love your photos as always!
Happy Autumn to you and your family,

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Beautifully written, thank you.

a tasteful garden said...

hi there. i just found your blog through Blotanical. i'm a fellow maine gardener. it is with complete disbelief that my plants made it through the frosty evening the other night. i don't think i'll be as lucky this weekend.
glad to have found your blog :)

sarah said...

Our doorway is the same, filled with baskets of the last harvest.
So well written and captured and I love the photo at the top with the white house and clouds. Wow.
Happy October 1st to you and your family from mine here.
Looking forward your words to come about fall and winter...

The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

I just love your words June. You take me away to another place when I read them.

Happy Fall Ya'll. I had to say that cause it's rhymes (I don't have a drawl, lol).

tom tall clover farm said...

Your lovely prose and haunting images help lessen my grip on summer want and soften the reality of the autumn's first frost. We have a week of clear skies and sun in the forecast, which should give me just enough time to admit I need to split more wood, bring in my citrus trees, and embrace the cloud cover to come.

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