It is the season of slowly disappearing. Heading up the path, the woods thin out with decaying red and yellow leaves crunching beneath my feet. The lavender, neighbored by goldenrods and purple asters, looks healthy. I grab some lavender leaves and sniff calmness. Taking a right I walk through the threadbare canopy of deciduous trees and evergreens. The sky is a dark blue and leaves blow around making me feel light.
I see red Russula mushrooms in the grass on either side of the trail. The red cap and white stem stick out. The web of white ropey matter lays beneath the soil producing the fruit. Looking up on the right side of the path sadly I see my blueberry bushes that were attacked this summer by a gauzy-spider web mass. I fear the end of the bushes, but spring will tell. The branches still show green inside but no leaves.
Crunch, crunch as I walk on the path. Openings in the dark cover of the huge forsythia bushes and popular trees now let in lots of sun. It is no longer a rain forest but a light filled cathedral. Walking on I can see the range of mountains in Madison County peeping through the emptied trees.
Under my feet I observe oyster mushrooms fruiting from our old straw bags that we laid on the path to build the ground up. The flat white mushrooms take off in the outside air and grow hardy.
On down the trail stand newly planted pines that we put in the ground to give us more privacy. Our neighbor clears her property right up to the line. Some of the pines made it and others didn’t. I look forward to seeing the surviving pines grow.
It seems Mother Nature is in stages of dying—the blueberries, leaves dropping from trees and some of the pines gone. After taking a left to my strawberry patch, I see a handful of fresh strawberries to pick. They are everbearing and will fruit till frost. Finally I weeded the strawberries last week. The weeds took over until I got busy. Now it looks neat with straw laid on the paths. Next to the strawberries, echinacea dry up for another year. The goldenrod and purple iron weed bloom in the wild grass area near the front of the garden, close to the paved road.
Walking on up the driveway to the upper garden, spaghetti squash lay, re-planted after the rain wiped out our crop this summer. It looks like we may get two or three squash before frost hits whenever this is. On up red and green peppers finally fruit since it is drier now. We’ve collected and froze them filling our freezer with red and green.
Next rhubarb fruits. There is very little left so I picked enough for a couple servings lately cooked with apple cider and raisins. It tasted sour and sweet and gave me much comfort. Eating rhubard reminds of childhood gardens. I froze four quarts this year and put in freezer to eat later. The fresh rhubarb wans. I see a few green leaves pushing up but they grow very slowly.
Zinnas brighten our garden still reminding me of summer days. The Dahlia yellow/orange/ red ones are leaving us but the miniature ones continue to grow and give us flowers to enjoy and share. How energizing it is to see shades of pink and red zinnas on the shelf above the sink as I wash dishes.
I spy the greens patch continuing on up the driveway. Every evening we decide what greens to eat for supper. Chard, spinach mustard, baby kale, Romaine lettuce and spinach grow. It’s the best crop we’ve ever had. It has a lot to do with rot tilling the red clay. The spading gives air to the soil. Plus we add chicken compost and fish emulsion. It feels like a real success story to have an abundance of greens—what a treasure. A dream come true.
A big patty pan squash plant stands out on the right of the garden. We lost these vines to an abundance of summer rain but replanted. We now eat fresh patty pan in soups, stir fries and casseroles. Butternut squash grows, too but I doubt they will grow big enough before frost.
Soon it will be time for my husband to plant next year’s garlic. We are still using this year’s crop and he saved cloves to plant for next year. I wish we could grow enough for all year but we usually end up buying some.
As I work in the garden I sense the presence of my Dad who was an avid gardener. It feels like he is behind me guiding me what to do. We even conversed about the strawberry patch. One day it came to me like he was talking to me. I planted solid strawberry plants with no place to walk. I long to talk to Dad and started the conversation in my head. I listened as he suggested making a row in between strawberry plants enough to weed and pick. My gardening is a memorial to my father.
Walking above the garden near the house is my husband’s herb garden with oregano, tarragon and parsley. Last year the parsley grew all winter long. This fall’s bush looks healthy and may make it another winter. In the back behind the house basil is drying in our little starter greenhouse. I see wild asters—purple and white blowing in the wind. The light goes earlier at night. I walk 10 minutes with my dog at sunset and darkness comes sooner and sooner. Morning I find the dark on waking.
I am thankful we’ve filled our freezer with vegetables and fruits and canned tomatoes on our shelves to get us through the cold season. Friends gave us apples and I was in heaven. I used their hand operated peeler and froze seven quarts of apple sauce and four quarts of sliced apples for apple crisp. I love using my Mother’s recipe called
Tempting Apple Crisp
4 c. sliced apples ½ c. brown sugar
1 T. lemon juice ½ t. salt
1/3 c. flour 1 t. cinnamon
1c. oats uncooked 1/3 c. butter melted
Place apples in shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix dry
ingredients, add butter and mix until crumbly. Bake at 375 degrees for ½ hour.
It is the season of the Apple and Mother Nature’s glory slowly fading to take rest from another year of growth. How I long to rest and savor the slowing down of the growing season from chop/chop/chop to rest/chop/rest.
From spring’s new energy to summer’s abundance to fall’s fading away. The mood is enjoying the present but no new growth. It is the season of slowly disappearing.
written October 2013
edited November 2015