This time of the year I lose my edge. I get a little soft, a little sentimental. As farm life begins to slow, the few extra hours in the week leave me wistful.
For a week now “Take down the summer garden” appears on the top of the daily to-do list. The assignment, re-copied each day onto a fresh sheet of paper, is spared from completion. Charming wistfulness has turned to ugly procrastination.
This isn’t like me. Earlier in the year I’m ruthless. Plants that slow down, or fade in the blazing sun, are ripped out. Tossed onto the compost pile. Real estate on a small farm is too valuable to waste on underachievers.
But now, in the late warmth of Autumn I begin to negotiate with Mother Nature. “They’ll bounce back,” I say out loud to no one. “One good rain and they’ll get another flush.”
The summer garden is spent. There is no bouncing back.
Okra, eggplant, peppers, zinnias, marigolds, the workhorses of the summer, struggle to give me their last ounce of energy. But they are weary. They are ready to go.
Rationalization takes over. The fall garden is in. There’s plenty more to come.
But so much of the fall garden hides away underground, snuggled in warm soil. Fall gardens aren’t big and showy. They are quiet and unassuming. The party is over.
Hook up the bush hog. Mow it down. Mark it off the list.
I try to sooth myself. There’s always next year. Next year will be even better.