What the heck!
Nineteen days ’till the autumnal equinox, one of two dates on the calendar with equal doses of night and day. From the first one on March 21, the days continued getting longer, warmer, the air full of promise: spring and summer and life, ahead. This equinox will mark the first day of Fall and will continue time’s relentless march toward shorter days, the end of the growing season, harvest, winter. I don’t say, “What the heck” because I don’t like what’s coming. Fall is my favorite time of year. I only remark because, well, it’s here already! Once again, time has played me fast and loose, or maybe I’ve not marked it as I ought.
If you were to ask me how I lived my life, I’d tell you I am absorbed each day, focused on life and living, people and plants, writing and words, the beauty and wonder around me. Then I glance at a calendar and, what’s this? September already! I was so taken up in time, I hardly noted its passing. Maybe that’s o.k. For sure it’s startling.
I picked a mess of beans the other day for supper, proud of a still producing late-summer garden. If I were really good, really focused on these things and not spending 11-12 hours a day commuting and working, I would have fall crops: lettuce, spinach, chard, turnips (for Burns Supper tatties and neeps in January) and maybe broccoli, even, well under way. As it is, only a few anemic baby lettuce plants struggle in pots. Still, for gardening in two community plots not under my daily gaze, and in the Lorelei, filled with mostly freshly turned, newly established beds, having beans on the last day of August is pretty good. Last night we relished a Caprese salad with fresh tomatoes and still a few more to be picked, enough to prolong that juicy red bit of summer joy. Some cucumbers and a couple of eggplant are also in my late-summer future.
I also know summer’s days are numbered by the nighttime low temperatures. One sign you can plant tomatoes in spring is night temperatures 65 and above. Just these last few days, night time lows have been creeping back south, inching their way to 65. Soon, I’ll need to dig sweet potatoes and pick winter squash, though here in Virginia the first frost is still a ways off.
I suppose my death will be like this. I hope it is. Aware of signs I’m wearing down but still so focused on living and loving, on planting and harvesting, on writing and art, one day I’ll wake up and realize it’s almost over, that my seasons are almost at an end, that my life’s icy winter is at hand. But enough of that talk on this perfect late summer day, high whispy clouds against a fair blue, a still warmish breeze against my face. My life is barely, not even yet, at the end of its summer. My autumn’s still ahead, not quite here yet. I think I’ll go kiss my wife, hug my grandson, and tell my children and their spouses I love them. Then I think I’ll go plant some turnips.