Monday, September 15, 2008

Fall in the Garden

The other day while perusing the garden to see what tomatoes might be ready I heard a soft buzzing. I looked up to see a hummingbird visiting my cosmos, zinnias, and maidenhair vine. A small "tweeting" sound came with each sip. It flew on in less than a minute, and my only wish was that I had more to offer the little one. As it got smaller and smaller in the distance, I thought about the migration it was most likely about to begin.

Frost is soon on its way, and this year it is particularly bittersweet for me as we plan our upcoming move to Japan. The opportunity to explore gardening and agriculture in another country is thrilling, not to mention all the cool vegetables and flowers I anticipate meeting during our time there. And I believe it will be good for these beds to rest from growing for a bit, although I am quite sure the grass running along the edge is already formulating a take-over strategy.

Yet, I feel a certain sadness as I look over the garden and listen to the bees. The garden is a source of food for us, but it is also a place of solace and joy for me. The time spent here with my hands in the dirt weeding and planting is meditative. Time slows down or stops as my hands carve a row for seeds or pull weeds to give the kale a bit more room. Sunlight warms my shoulders and the cats curl up in the shade of the leaves of the rhubarb plant. Bees buzz about the blooms of the bergamont and the sage blossoms, and I laugh at one that dives directly into the nasturtium blossom without hesitation.

I wonder how the damson trees will fare, and if we can arrange for a burn of our yard in the spring. Will the milkweed host more tussock moth caterpillars and will there be again more goldenrod and aster plants scattered throughout the yard? Should we arrange for someone to pick the pears and keep an eye on the apple trees? If I scatter the garlic seeds from my friend Karen how will I know they will take and who will weed around them? Should I arrange for someone to weed out the million tiny tansy plants I know will again try to take over the space?

Looking up from the garden to the blue sky above and the lines of the land that is not mine but is in some way because it forms part of my personal geography, I feel the beginnings of home. The wind in the tree line to our north also rustles the corn, and a praying mantis lumbers by. The chickens stroll the edge of the garden looking for a tomato hornworm, a tasty weed, or just a word of hello. As they work their final lap of the day and edge closer to their coop, the sky swings to orange and a gentle chill settles over us. My heart is settling here at last, finding its place.