Friday, October 17, 2003

first frost

old graveyard in autumn

So much has happened since spring. Small seeds have sprouted into luxuriant plants, laden with fruits, and now death is a common event, but it always makes us pause, at the very very least. Overnight, the few thin tomato vines that still reached for the sky, the young ones that were unscathed by the munching of fungi and other critters, have now succumbed to the deadly frost. The pepper plants were oblivious til the last moment--looking lush and stouter than ever up to that last day, pumping out yet more flowers. It is bittersweet to go out in the garden in the soft muted light of a misty October day, which only intensifies the colors contrasting and there is the feeling of impending doom and then the next day all is covered with a thin layer of frost and a mild sense of relief as soon the labors of canning will turn into pride on the basement shelves. Another year is lost and gained. Virginia creeper leaves are dark red, showing up against the still green wild grapevines on the fence. Every day is a new change in color. Dead marigolds and sunflower stalks pulled out of the garden gain new respect and renewed charm laid hapless on the walls of the bird's nest bin.

The drought did not do good for the pumpkins this year, but the color of fall still shows up in the bowls of tomatoes in various stages of ripeness/unripeness on the coffee table in the living room. Green, pink blush, yellow and red. Potted plants that were outside are crowding for space at the windows.

In the garden, the fall crops come to the fore. Dark-green spinach; lettuces in hues from light green to streaked with the seriousness of dark red. White cauliflowers sparkle amidst the rows of every shade of green: brussels' sprouts, cabbages, kales, collards, and broccoli too. Tuscan kale adds a note of blue to the green, and I am again back in Italy, where I have never been. I squat to pull carrots from the still-yielding earth.

Today is the day to plant garlic.