Last days in the garden

I worked in the garden all day, while the bobcat watched from her favorite tree, the pigeons picked up any bits I uncovered and the tortoise and deer waited outside the fence for me to throw them green peppers and corn.

As I took down the tomato cages and pulled up the plants, I ate the last ripe, sun warmed tomato of the summer. I can’t decide which tastes better, the first of the summer or the last. Each has it’s merits, yet somehow, the last tastes sweeter.

I found a Chinese radish that the rabbits missed. It was bright green on the outside and red in the inside. I rubbed the dirt off on my pants and marveled how many different flavors you could find in a single radish. (I did feel a bit Scarlet O’Hara though).

When I pulled the rattlesnake pole bean vines down from their posts, I found a few fresh ones hiding in the leaves. The deer were begging for them, but I ate them instead. I’m glad I did. They would not have properly appreciated them. besides, I needed lunch.

All the squash is picked, acorn, spagetti and butternut. One butternut weighed at least five pounds. It will be wonderful soup this winter. Unfortunately the Kurdota squashes seem to appeal to the mice and chipmunks. The rinds were chewed on nearly every one. There was one that actually had a hole bored into it and all the seeds were gone. I suppose I’ll find them growing somewhere next summer. Maybe I should coax that bobcat out of the tree.

It grew warm, and I took off my sweatshirt. It probably would have been a good idea to go get the sunscreen, but this sunburn feels so good in the chilly night.

The last big orange pumpkin got cut from it’s supporting sling on the trellis. They were labeled “Baby Boos” by the seed company, but I think someone might have been mistaken. The very smallest was the size of a basketball. I banged my head on the largest every time I walked under the 7 foot tall structure. The low, fat cheese pumpkins will have to wait for a frost, to sweeten them up before picking.

There are still fragrant herbs and lots of zinnias and marigolds blooming. Last week they were covered in monarch butterflies. They are gone now, leaving behind a few small fritillaries. Oh, and the bumblebees! They are everywhere. I frequently have to move them out of the way and yesterday, one fell asleep on my discarded sweatshirt and it grew too cold for him to go home. I put him in the greenhouse for safe sleeping and this morning, he was at the window, ready to return to the flowers.

I love the bumblebees. They are slow and gentle and let me pet them on their hairy backs. I figure, if a bumblebee can fly, then so can I…at least in my imagination.

The failures (mostly due to the numerous rabbits) didn’t seem so disheartening as I thought. There was so much bounty despite them. I can always buy beets at the store,( even if they aren’t as sweet as mine) and Jimmy is thrilled that there is no kale.

There were a lot more tomatillos and poblano peppers than I expected, so tomorrow night, I’ll can up a big batch of Mexican green sauce for enchiladas. Cabbages and carrots can wait and my Christmas limas will continue to dry until frost. Before it snows, I’ll pick the rest of the Indian corn I use for corn meal. I’ll tie it up in bundles with the rest and not only grind it for flour, but enjoy the beauty of the colors while the world is white and gray.

It seems as though I measure my years in gardens now. I don’t necessarily categorize events by dates, but as “That was the year I grew the Berkley tomatoes” or ‘Oh yea, remember, it was the year of the-squash-that-ate-the-garden”. I live for spring. I manage the summer and I revel in fall. It’s not sad to bring in the harvest and put the garden to bed. It just clears the way for all the new things I want to plant next year.

Right now, I’m going to slip these sunburned shoulders into my favorite night shirt and dream of summer days and flying with bumblebees.

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