Like Gold: September in the Garden
Technically it’s fall now. Not technically, but certainly in my opinion anyway, it’s been fall for awhile. It became fall as soon as the mornings began to dawn cool and dewy. As soon as the winter squash ripened. As soon as raindrops on spiderwebs began glinting in the sunlight.
I don’t need a calendar, printed in a windowless factory somewhere, to tell me when the seasons change. The earth speaks it loud and clear. It’s more easily heard out here on the farm than in town, maybe, or perhaps it’s just a matter of listening.
September is awash in a golden hue.
Have you ever noticed how the colors of this month really all seem to center around yellow? Pencils, sunflowers, school buses, squash, hay fields and corn stalks.
Even my memories of past Septembers are tinged with gold. My very first day of high school, amber bright, wearing a new sweater that immediately became too hot and made me sweaty and self-conscious. Cross-country meets along ochre sand dunes, flanked by the ocean glistening bronze in the sun. Cradling my squalling newborn in the fall of sunlight from our living room windows, worrying about her jaundice.
October is pumpkin orange, and November fades to a burnt vermilion. But September is cheerful and bright, even as it hurtles headlong toward the end.
With Jasper off his leg and recovering his health for the next few weeks, it’s fallen to me to gather up the harvest. It probably falls on me to do it regardless of Jasper’s health, since I am the gardener, but I usually manage to coax him into helping me. We are partners, after all.
This harvest though, I’ve left him on the couch and headed out alone, 15-gallon blue Rubbermaid tote in hand, and done it myself. The other day I plucked 150 ears of corn from their stalks, then spent the evening shucking and blanching and cutting off the kernels and freezing it all. It took a long time, but it’s done and I’m proud of myself.
I’m curing onions and winter squash now. I picked the last of the beans and the beets yesterday, and that is that.
All that’s left in the garden now are flowers.
Cosmos and zinnias, calendula and marigolds. Sunflowers. It feels like relief to be in the garden in these waning days of September. An exhalation of breath. An exaltation. Nothing more to do but wander and appreciate the happy faces of the flowers, golden and cheerful, and listen to the busy chorus of bees and birds.
Harvest is done. Summer is done.
It was brilliant, and we’ll remember it like gold in the months to come.