Fall is really here. I put my garden to bed today. Dying weeds were pulled and the mulch was spread. Ending the spring and summer bursts of color and growth of edibles that I work so hard to grow each year. I am not a good gardener. I can’t name most of the things I have planted, I don’t know what grows where and how, I under-water and more creatures enjoy our fruits and vegetables than we do.
Gardening is a distraction from the miserable heat of summer. Gardening is the only exercise I really enjoy. Gardening allows me to escape whatever is cluttering my head as I always get absorbed in the sensual aspects of gardening. The smells of grass and soil, the colors of leaves and blooms, dirt forced under every fingernail and the sound of a shovel breaking through the earth and eventually hitting stone. Chattering insects and animals put me in a trance until my mind is clear.
I think of the women in my family who had all the skills I lack. I did not inherit their green thumbs. I wish for good gardening mojo to transfer from me to the soil I touch, as if a genetic connection would make it that easy. I think of watching grandmothers who could grow anything from nothing and how my mom can identify just about any plant or tree (Latin name first usually accompanied with a brief history of origin). As a girl, when I visited my grandmother, we would go to the store for milk, cereal, bananas, chicken, flour, sugar, spices and a few snacks. Everything else came from her backyard. It impressed me then and now I recall it with awe since I finally understand all the exhausting work.
I tuck the memories away. I look forward to the fall colors and cool weather. I will hope for quiet, soft snows in winter. Next year, while it is still frosty outside, I will watch for signs of spring. Another garden will be planted again, just like it always has been.