Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Last Stretch of Summer

I feel like a turtle who's been hiding in my shell all summer, slowing stretching back out my head, my legs, checking things out and getting back to the business of being a turtle. Turtles would probably do the opposite though, be busy all summer and close themselves back into their shell come autumn. Maybe that's the wrong analogy. How 'bout a squirrel, getting busy gathering nuts for the coming winter? Well, in any case, I can see signs here and there that summer's coming to an end and autumn is appearing on the horizon, and my energy levels are rising.

Autumn seems to be my natural environment. I found it interesting that when I showed people photos of us at Faerieworlds, about half a dozen people came up with the same spontaneous comment - that I looked so in my element in my Autumn Faery garb that it's as if I should wear it all the time. I don't know about alllll the time, but I know I'd happily steal a few weeks from each of the other seasons to extend Autumn as long as possible.

The last couple of days the temperatures have dropped. At night we've had frost warnings. It's not permanent, it's supposed to be back up in the 90's by the end of the week, but it's been a lovely sample of days to come. I've abandoned my shorts and skirts for a pair of jeans and made myself several cups of hot tea.

Because of the frost warning I went out to gather up any tomatoes that might be ripe. Our backyard garden is pretty protected, so I didn't bother covering anything or picking the green tomatoes yet. Not that there are many. I planted beautiful heirloom tomatoes and eggplant this year and then pretty much walked away from the garden for the rest of the summer.

Hubby kept watering though and a couple of tomato plants produced. One eggplant gave me this beautiful fruit.

I cooked it up with a Black Prince tomato and made a tasty grilled eggplant, tomato, egg, and cheese panini last night for dinner.

But mostly the vegetable garden looks like this:

Yes, I know. Not vegetables. They're all volunteers and they took over and choked out the veggies. But at this point, I'm not going to pull them. They're blooming profusely and it's long past the chance for the vegetables to recover before frost takes them. So, I'll just enjoy the color and try to force myself to murder.... er, prune the flowers back to some semblance of order next year. Apparently I'm better at tough love with my kids than with my plants. I'm a complete pushoever when it comes to letting volunteers grow in my garden. And I don't deadhead. I know, it might be a hopeless goal.

The grapes look great this year. We have three different kinds growing in three different parts of our yard. These juice grapes look so pretty with the different stages of color. I tasted one of the darker purple ones and it wasn't as ripe as it looked. It was so tart I had to spit it out. Last year the grapes didn't do as well and what we did have we lost to the birds before we could harvest them. I hope to get some juice or jam or just finger snacks out of them this year. We've got a bumper crop of apples and peaches this year too.

I try not to jump ahead, to enjoy each season as it comes and goes. But this time of year is always hard for me as I both love the subtle smells and changes of light that signify the end of summer and I'm chafing at the bit to get into the heart of autumn. I keep reminding myself that once the leaves here turn and fall, the green is gone for a long, long time. I need to spend as much time outside enjoying it now as I possibly can. What's that old saying? "Be here now" or is it "Be. Here. Now." It's a wise truth, either way.


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