Life Cycles

September 29, 2012 

After the hot, dry summer we had around here, the cooler fall weather makes me smile all over – even with all the crazy things going on in the world.  We’ve had more rain in the last few weeks than we had in June and July together.  We’ve still not made up for the drought, but it seems like we’re finally working at it.  And, with the lovely cool nights I’ve slept better these last few weeks than I did all summer.

So, with all this fall energy, I’ve set about on two tasks over the last week – taking apart the summer garden and deep cleaning the apartment.  As pathetic as the summer garden was this year, I always feel a little sad pulling up the plants I so tenderly nourished from mid spring through autumn.  Of course, it all goes into the compost pile for recycling next spring.  The five little cantaloupes that popped up at the end of last month all went mushy before they could ripen.  They and their vines now also reside in the compost pile.  I did leave the tomato plants.  They’ve suddenly burst into bloom again and I brought in the first tomato since July the other day while another, smaller one waits for first blush out there.  Will others follow?  Ah, the mysteries of the garden.

The fall garden I planted didn’t make it. What the tenant’s dogs didn’t dig up, my son accidentally weed-whacked out of existence the other day when he kindly came over to help clean up things.  I did manage to save one of the volunteer basil and replant it in a pot in the kitchen window.  And, one radish plant managed to hide from both the dogs and the weed-whacker under the now-browning asparagus fronds.  I’ll probably just let it go to seed for next year.  Safe from both son and dogs, the lettuce and spinach out on my little south porch are doing well.  I’ve already had several nice salads.  A few onions I planted from seed in the earth boxes last fall (and forgot about) are suddenly growing among the lettuce leaves this year and I still have seed onions and garlic to plant in early November.

All told, things weren’t a total bust.  I have a couple of gallon bags of asparagus from this spring in the freezer, along with a quart bag of diced onions, one of diced peppers, another of sliced okra, the four gallons of frozen grapes, two gallons of rhubarb and a quart of strawberries a friend gave me that I sliced and froze.  Along with the meat, dried eggs, flour, cornmeal and other oddities I keep in the freezer, the can goods in the pantry, the sprouts I’ll grow this winter and whatever other goodies I can tuck away before winter, I’m not likely to starve any time soon.  I will try for a small garden in the house again this winter, though I’ve not had much luck in previous years.

Oh, and the banana tree I thought was dead – especially after I took down the last dying stalk – has sprouted three new trees from the roots of the old.  Well, let that be a lesson for me.  Who knows what will come of it, but Life does go on.

Next weekend the roof on the side porch gets new shingles and the week after that, if it doesn’t rain too much, I’ll put a fresh coat of paint on the little porch.

As for deep cleaning the apartment, it’s not quite as joyful a task as the garden, but one that needs doing.  So, once a year, I wipe down the walls – and the ceilings where necessary – wash the windows, the curtains, the slipcovers and throw pillows, all the things I, as a poor housekeeper, fail to do often enough during the year.  I do it one room at a time, in between things that still need doing outdoors.  After all, I don’t want to waste this lovely fall weather inside all day.  It will take me a month or so before I’m satisfied that I can live with it another year.

By that time, we’ll have had our first deep frost and it will be time to look around at what I’ve accomplished this year, inside and out, and begin making lists for what I’ll need to get done next year.

Through the winter, I’ll probably take it easy – unless I decide that I can squeeze out enough money to put a new coat of paint on those walls and ceilings.  By late winter, I’ll have cabin fever.  That’s the time to pull out the seed catalogs and the gardening notebook, plan next spring’s garden, start the transplants, see what’s fallen apart during the winter and needs fixing next year and make a new list of chores.

Then, sometime next March or early April, I’ll see that the crocus are in bloom and the jonquils are sprouting their long, green leaves.  Spring will be here – with whatever that entails in this era of climate change, economic fragility, social unrest and energy scarcity – and the whole kit and caboodle will start again.

It just never ends, we sometimes whine.  And, you know what I say?   Thank goodness for that.


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