The forsythia bush I planted four years ago as a forlorn stick with a few ratty leaves is taller than me now. I’m not a giant — I’m not even five feet tall — but this forsythia has leapt from bush to sapling.
We’re at the annual point in the year where I appraise our tiny homestead. The garden needs to be prepped for planting garlic, and there’s plenty, yet, to rip out there. The sunflowers are bending their stalks earthward. I’ll leave their fat heads for the birds to pluck seeds all winter. As for the forsythia, I wonder, Will you bloom next year? Each spring, this plant has given few gold blossoms, but I keep thinking its true radiance has yet to shine.
I offer this bush a fat layer of compost — chocolate for plants. Time will tell….
If you’re in my neck of the woods, I’ve been invited to a book discussion group at the Craftsbury Public Library, Sunday, October 3, at 4 p.m. The Craftsbury Library hosts outdoor events, so wear a good sweater.
The little apple tree that someone planted at our house before I bought it boasts fist-sized apples this year, surprising me. The previous year, the tree produced just a handful of apples. The first year we lived here bore only a single fruit. But this year, one branch bends so low beneath the weight it threatens to break.
On an evening walk, I pick a single apple, its skin tart, the flesh mealy. Enough good for pie. That’s fine news for the day.
I’m honored to participate as an author in CLiF’s Book Club for Grown-Ups. The Children’s Literacy Foundation is an inspiring, give-books-to-kids organization. If you’re interested, you can participate, too. Link included for a free sign-up.
Last, a little Richard Brautigan from Tokyo-Montana Express on this autumn morning:
“There are not too many fables about man’s misuse of sunflower seeds.”
Our cucumbers withered and died this year, producing little. For years, I’ve built my little mounds and buried seeds or planted my seedlings. This year, the extreme heat, the fluctuations of cold and rain, and sultry heat again, made the vines lie down and quit.
The queen of my garden is the sunflower, their golden faces open high above my head, friend to the sparrows and finches who dart through their stalks.
In the face of grim news, I offer this as a tiny sliver: the sunflowers are growing mightily. Bees are fattening.
My daughter returns from a hectic work week with a mason jar of flowers from a friend. Our cat immediately gnaws on a zinnia leaf, and so my daughter sets the jar of flowers on our table on the back porch.
A week later, the flowers are still vibrant — giant orange zinnias and sunflowers and maroon amaranth that drapes over the jar’s edge. This, despite the fluctuations of cold and heat for days.
The other name for amaranth is Love Lies Bleeding.
On this Saturday morning, my daughters already at work and soccer, I drink coffee and catch up with email. Next year, I imagine, maybe I’ll plant my entire garden in flowers, vegetables be damned. I won’t; I know that. But I sowed an enormous variety of Love Lies Bleeding in along my brassica this year. We’re devouring all of that.
August. On a run after work, I remind myself August would be a good month to step away from work and the revolving paddlewheel of our daily lives. I’ve pretty much always failed at vacations, but I fold that idea somewhere away in my memory. As I walk home and cut across a little league field, I have a sudden memory of eating grass as a young child. I remember pulling long, slightly sharp-edged blades and nibbling on these, like a goat or a cow, eating straight from the earth.
In my garden, green beans are fattening on the vines in force. We eat those in the sunlight, straight from the vine. Cucumbers. Tomatoes. Wild blackberries and the few lingering raspberries we’ll find as stragglers for weeks yet.
Last summer, my neighbors put a Black Lives Matter sign in their front yard. The sign was stolen. They purchased another. The second sign was stolen. The patten repeated. Our neighbors brought the sign in at night. They placed the sign between our two houses. They kept at it.
Earlier this summer, I noticed a sign had appeared on their lawn again, above a tarp spread out near the sidewalk. I didn’t note much of that. It’s a way I don’t usually walk in the non-snowy months. I nearly always cut through the cemetery or take a different side street.
But last night, walking home in a faint rain, I saw they had planted a row of wildflowers where that tarp had been. The flowers are about knee-high, festooned with delicate blooms. Their sign remains.