The first week of December marks, for me, the end of fall and start of winter. I toss out the pumpkins, which usually means wading through snow either to reach the compost pile, or to pick a squirrel-worthy spot where I can watch the process of discovery. wayward harvestBut so far this year snow has been a casual visitor, stopping in for tea and gone again in a matter of hours. Fall temperatures linger, but as hours of daylight continue their decline the garden drifts deeper and deeper into sleep.

The catmint is still green. I step in it on purpose, so my cat will flip all over my feet when I go back in the house. In the garden I fasten down the lid on the cold frame to keep the wind from catching it and pulling it off.

Kicking up leaves instead of making snowy footprints as I walk into the woods, I’m looking out for forgotten tools when the first thing I find is a surprise – a dead elm tree has fallen over. When did this happen? I didn’t hear a thing, which I guess proves that if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, it falls just the same. Though it’s possible one of the neighbors heard it.

Doug’s in the front yard putting in snow stakes to guide our plow service through the curve of the driveway, keeping them off the flowerbeds.

“Did you hear the tree fall in the back yard?” I ask.

“What tree?” he says, ambiguously. I bring him around back to affirm this independent action taken by the universe. He sizes it up and figures he can get about half of it with his chain saw. Home-grown firewood, an unexpected crop.

All the garden tools are hibernating safely in the garage, the squirrels have already found the pumpkins, and a cardinal, bright ornament, sits looking down on them, interested in the seeds. This evening a few deer will join them, breaking up the harder rinds with their sharp hoofs, and together they will dispose of this wayward harvest before enough snow falls to cover it.

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