First weekend in October, time to close the summer gardens. The air smells like wood smoke and fallen leaves. The fruit from my trees is long gone, the last few apples tucked away in the refrigerator. The tomatoes are mostly green. The squash has stopped producing. Nights are cool. Soon there will be a frost. It’s time. It’s past time perhaps. I need to pull out the green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, squash, and basil to make room for the kale, collards, and winter greens. Lovely and delicious in their own right, but not as abundantly splendid or juicy as summer’s garden yield. I’ll pick the last green tomatoes and leave them on the dining room table and they’ll ripen up, but they won’t taste the same as vine-ripened. Oh, how long it will be until next July when I taste my first homegrown ripe tomato again. I can hardly stand it.
The winter greens will be delicious when they get going, and autumn brings its own delights. Even so, closing the gardens in the fall is an admission that summer has ended, that the season has turned, and that the magnificent bounty of the garden’s peak is gone.
Kind of like life, huh? It’s hard to decide that it’s time to close the summer garden and move on to autumn. It was hard for me to decide it was time to leave the Ranch, where I raised my children. To leave the home of my parenting years and the richness of life with youngsters in the house. Time to move to the comforts of the Villa and an easier life, the life of an older woman, with grown children. I begin to see the time approaching when I must decide to close up the gardens for good here at the Villa, downsize and offload, say goodbye to my fruit trees, and make the move to a smaller place that’s easier to manage, perhaps even a rental unit with no gardens possible. To leave this home and move to a home more suited to an aging woman. Each of those transitions with sad goodbye to the season fading out while welcoming whatever joys the next season will bring. Conscious effort to look forward.
And always there is the decision about when it’s time to close the garden and move on to the next season.