Saturday, October 2, 2010

Burnished Season

We've had two weeks of absolutely gorgeous fall weather. The trees have suddenly changed color, and everything has this burnished feel. Everything is metallic: copper, silver, steel, bronze. Hanging clothes on the line yesterday, the rusted metal of our clothes line struck me as quite beautiful and in tune with the season.

Warm fronts come through and cold fronts come through, but not with the violence of summer storms. The  autumn sun truly holds its own, cutting through the cold nights and lighting up the trees, the grasses, the few remaining fruits in my garden. Yesterday I harvested the mature spinach, another big bag full, and last night I covered the remaining baby lettuce and spinach with a blanket. There was a possibility of frost, even greater tonight. That will do in the zucchini plant that has suddenly and too late decided it wants to produce. It will sweeten the kale and leeks that are reaching full maturity. I'm not sure what it will do to the pumpkin vine, which has two more small, well-shaped green fruits on it.

I'm anxious to plant some bulbs in the flower garden, but when I go out, the alyssum and snapdragons that have finally gotten plenty of space now that the lilies are all dead and cut back, look so happily alive I can't bear to remove them just yet. So it is still a matter of "one more week" and waiting on the gardens. In the prairie, the purple asters have been more prevalent than we've seen them, and they're hanging on as well. I cut some for a vase yesterday as well.

The frost predictions-- last night mid-30s but tonight they're saying high-20s and low-30s--let us know that October is the month the cold weather arrives. Last year we had snow in October, and I remember how bundled up we were during the chicken butchering last Halloween. Of course, those pictures also show that the bright autumn sun was still with us, just losing it's ability to heat things up.

Two weeks ago, when we were having our little blast of Indian Summer, I got hot enough gardening to want to jump in the swimming hole pond one more time. Steve walked over with me but wouldn't go in, knowing how cold it would be. It was indeed bracing, but as inviting as it appeared. Clear and cold like Lake Superior or the mountain lakes I love. The ponds and lakes are their most beautiful now. They are like gems, and the cold must be part of that beauty. A pond in summer is not nearly as beautiful as a pond in fall. They are startling both as mirrors and when you look into their clear depths.

So I'm thinking of fall this way, the struggle between the heat of that sun and the cold of those ponds. By the end of the month, the ponds will be winning, and that is not at all a bad thing. It has its own beauty, seen in the ponds and also tasted in the sweetness of the kale.

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