The Garden Chronicles ~ Oct. 15, 2011

 “Nature is the living, visible garment of God.”  ~ Goethe

This was a bittersweet day. A strong gusty wind, kind of drizzly in the morning, cloudy with sunny breaks in the afteroon. The wind was invigorating. It whipped the trees around and made everything seem as if it had come alive. The trees and shrubs and grasses were all bowing to the east. I was in a Van Gogh painting, the landscape swirling with energy around me. Or maybe a kind of Pentecost reverberation. You could imagine God on the move, a wildness in the air.

It was definitely a fall day. I wore a jacket and two pairs of gloves. A knitted pair of finger gloves inside my leather garden gloves. The leather gloves were going to get wet, so I needed the knitted gloves to keep my fingers warm. First I picked up five or six pails of walnuts. They were mushy from the rain. For some reason, this year we had a bumper crop of walnuts. I theorize that the six weeks of spring rain might have had something to do with it. Mark thinks it’s just cyclical. Every couple of years we get a ton of walnuts dropping down. They make a mess on our laneway as Mark’s truck and my car crunch over them. They start out hard and green; by this time in October, they are yellow and squishy, many of them already brown or black with rot. Most of them were lying amongst the fallen leaves. I pick them up in case I still have a chance to cut the grass one more time this fall. I need to do some serious raking, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
I spent about three hours filling four gigantic clear plastic bags with ripped-out annuals. This is sad because so many of them are still lush and growing – like the orange and scarlet celosia, the bright yellow dahlias and marigolds. But I know cold days are just around the corner. I don’t want to do this job when it’s freezing! It’s easy work for the most part. The alyssum and begonias just slide out of the ground, hardly taking any soil with the roots. The impatiens are slimy and messier. I pull weeds out while I’m at it. I leave all the grasses and the clematis and the sedums because they look so magnificent with the snow on them in the winter, and I leave the coneflowers for the birds to snack on. 
What’s good about a day like today, though, is thinking about spring. Thinking about the 90 tulip bulbs I’ll plant next week in the west garden where I’ve cleared out all the annuals. I got them cheap at Costco… a pastel mix of purple, pinks and soft creamy white. I make mental notes about which annuals did well and about how many I’ll need to get next year, and whether to go with alyssum or begonias as my border plants. My niece’s wedding will be in our backyard next August, so there’s lots to plan for… 
It was also a good day because I didn’t have to go anywhere. I had no errands to do. The whole day was devoted to being outside, having the occasional coffee break with Mark, who was working in the garage, refurbishing our stair railings. He’s re-staining the hand rails and painting the spindles white. It was a good day because I’m most thankful and peaceful when I’m in the garden. I pray. I pray for people who need prayer. But I also thank God for stuff, too. I thank God for my garden almost every day, for the joy it brings me, for the solitude I find there that is never lonely. My mind quiets down. Even though the garden is already starting to look messy, stems and stalks drying up and curling brown, and moist and sticky black leaves gumming up the beds, it still has a kind of last gasp dignity.   
It was also a good day because I had time to reflect on it and share it with you. 🙂

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