Incandescent October

oct blog red treeAutumn is my favorite time of year. This is true even though orange is my least favorite color. I make an exception for it in October: trees, pumpkins, marigolds, be as orange as you want and more glory to you. The colors are especially gorgeous this year, 2020 making up to us a little for its bad behavior. We need all the beauty we can get, and I’m very grateful to have it.

oct blog pathI looked out across my yard this morning to an almost comically busy array of birds and beasts. Squirrels toted chestnuts the size of their heads, deer nosed the ground for fallen crabapples, robins flocked to the red dogwood berries, and the woodchuck wallowed next to the rabbit in the clover. I didn’t get a picture, but you would have thought it was photo-shopped.

oct blog yellow tree chairI felt like a slacker in all this activity – my garden’s pretty much done. There was no frost the night I wrote about last time, but tonight I expect there will be. My task of the day was to gather all the rest of the flowers, if you can call that a task. A gift. An honor. A revelry. An antidote to the news, to the pandemic, to politics. After I brought them in I took another walk under the bright trees: redbuds, sugar maples,  beautiful and enduring native Americans. As are the cosmos, zinnias, and marigolds. It helps to have great heaps of beauty when ugly things are happening. Drown them out, trees and flowers, drown out the ugly noise.

flowers glass vasefrost flower mix

Harvest Before Frost

There was a prediction of frost a couple of weeks ago with warm nights expected to follow, so Doug helped me cover the tomato plants and some of last flowersthe flower beds. An early frost is heartbreaking, because it’s generally followed by weeks of good growing weather – but there are all your plants, dead. So we draped the beautifully named Floating Row Cover over the tops of the tomato stakes, the heads of the zinnias, and the bodies of the eggplants, and went inside. In the morning there was frost on Doug’s car out in the driveway, but none elsewhere. I undraped all the ghostly fabric trappings, folded them up, and brought them in, leaving the tomatoes to ripen in renewed sunlight.

But frost is predicted again, and this time it’s expected over several nights.last fruits Time to bring in the last of the harvest. I saw the globes of green tomatoes, the towers of zinnias, the  blowsy sprays of cosmos, but good heavens, where were all these little pumpkins hiding? I’d been feeling very cross about my crop of Jack Be Littles and Baby Boos producing nothing but huge leaves. Aha! Under the huge leaves, the little pumpkins were laughing at me. Then again, from the top of the compost pile some very large volunteer pumpkins were also laughing at me. These winter squash are quite the tricksters.

compostumpkinI won’t know till morning whether frost got the garden. Frost is another trickster. It brushes past here, settles over there, pools in a place you never noticed and maybe don’t believe is at the bottom of a slope. It may powder the lawn and draw crystals in the birdbath, but when the morning sun hits, they’re gone. You see the damage that was done among the ravaged, tender plants, but the perp is nowhere to be found. There’s nothing to do but gather up the evidence and cart it out to the compost. Partly I’ll be sad. Partly I’ll be wondering what that compost pile will surprise me with next year.