“Happy we who can bask in this warm September sun, which illumines all creatures, as well when they rest as when they toil, not without a feeling of gratitude; whose life is as blameless, how blameworthy soever it may be, on the Lord’s Mona-day as on his Suna-day. – Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862
Early this morning I arose and looked out the window to check out the backyard. Last night I had to cut five pumpkins off the vine and I had minor worries that squirrels would already be feasting before I brought them in. They’ve been ripe for a while. There were a lot of hot days this year and the pumpkins are early. So there will be no light frosts before removing them from the patch. If I leave them to set in the garden, the squirrels will surely have a feast. There’s one that I pulled up by accident when it was green. It is changing to orange, but it does not have the weight like the others. So it’s fate will be that of a true Jack O’ Lantern come Halloween! There are more green pumpkins in the garden and as I suspected most had small chunks chewed on the rind. A nibble could be found on one and then another. The rinds are still too hard to punch through so the squirrels aren’t able to pull out the seeds and move to another. The squirrels have not ruined all the pumpkins; at least not yet!
Nothing saddens me more than walking out into the garden and finding something completely demolished by the squirrels. And typically, they don’t demolish the entire vegetable or fruit; they chew parts here and there and move on to the next. All the planning, planting, nurturing, weeding, watering and tending of the garden only for those greedy critters to run amok. I’ve shared it with many: birds, bees, butterflies, bugs. But the squirrels wreak havoc on my garden. For me, my garden is like an old friend. I tend to have conversations with my garden. Each tomato, pepper, squash, beet or carrot is special and I sit in the midst of the garden and commune with all. It’s also a place where I remember an uncle of mine who passed suddenly in 1992. He was 62 and much too young to leave the earth so soon. Each seed, plant and weed reminds me of him. For he loved his garden and the art of gardening! He planted more than one could eat, but he loved it so much and he took his harvest to town to share with others. I learned so much from him. He introduced me to “Mother Earth News” and “Monty Python.” One day I will write about Cecil, but it will take time to put all the thoughts and memories that flood my mind together. Some day.
September is my most favorite month of the year. But then when March arrives, I’ll probably tell you March is my favorite month of the year! Now that the garden is winding down, thoughts of next year’s garden and what I want to do differently or what new things I hope to plant are taking precedence. Cool nights are great for sleeping, windows still wide open in the early morn, my body hunkered down beneath the comforter with a cool breeze wafting across my face. Yes, fall is approaching rapidly. And now it’s time to harvest more of the garden. With that brings bittersweet feelings for me because I’ve spent a good part of my time working in this garden. Now the plants are dying and fruits dropping to the ground. Paths that were just recently hard to meander through are now visible! But only a stranger to the garden would have had a problem finding their way around it.
After picking five pounds of tomatillos, the delicata squash and more tomatoes, I took a moment to sit down on the east side of the house and allowed the sun to warm my bones. I could have fallen asleep as I sat there listening to the sounds of the backyard and the neighborhood with my eyes closed, face angled toward the sun. Early enough that only a dog or two were barking. The blue jay making his warning calls that I was the intruder. I wanted to curl up and take a quick nap, but thoughts of tasks looming before me snapped me back to life.
The hole for the apple tree was dug and completed today. Tomato sauce and tomatillo green salsa are on the canning agenda. Plus I need to clean out the unfinished basement and make an area to store the winter squash and canned items for the season. There isn’t much in the basement other than spiders and webs. I’ll have to don a Class B hazardous waste suit to keep me from feeling the webs and jumping up and down like a wayward pogo stick. Maybe I’ll wait and do it another day!
There are still beets, carrots, potatoes, peppers, pumpkins, new lettuce, kale, winter squash, tomatoes and tomatillos in the garden. Not all are ready and some of them will stay into winter. I’ll loosen up the soil around them first. But I always worry about which ones won’t make it, won’t ripen in time because the growing season here can be short.
Well, the morning is passing fast and as usual I won’t get everything I’d like to do completed today. Maybe I will just head to the hardware store and buy cedar boards. There are several new raised beds I want to build. I am going to triple the garlic beds this fall. My first year was very successful and I harvested about 50 head of garlic. The organic garlic bulbs will ship on September 20 so I better get this task on the list and start it soon. Just after I finish the hole for the apple tree. Yeah. I think I will head back out into that warm September sun and take a nap!