Nap time

The pressure’s on: the first frost is looming, and the garden needs to be put to bed for its long winter’s nap. Move the greens to the greenhouse or into the seed rooms on the second floor; mulch the strawberries, shore up the fences, harvest all the last-minute stragglers, transplant some herbs and harvest the rest, enlarge the kitchen garden, move the lilac and azalea, cut back the peony leaves and stems. No need to bother cutting back the hosta; the deer have kindly done that for us all summer long. Now no self-respecting slug would come near them for their long winter’s nap.

We didn’t get it all done. And by sundown yesterday three of us were walking like we’d celebrated our centenaries several years ago. Shoveling rocks and moving big pots full of wet dirt and cold-sensitive plants will do that to a spine.

But, oh, what satisfying work it was, painful backs notwithstanding. Things look almost too trim, now that most of the wild greenness is gone. The neat raised beds are obvious again, the mad profusion of sweet potato vines and marigolds gone to compost. Even underground must look different to the voles. I can hear them now, “Hey … what happened to those yams??” Sorry guys, they’re safely tucked into boxes in the basement for our winter consumption. You should have planted your own.

It seems only days ago that we were madly trying to get things planted, that there was no Duck Lane or Duckville Manor, that the trees were still bare and the days too cold to get the peas into the ground. And here we are again, winter lurking around the corner. Soon we’ll be collecting maple sap and filling the house with the sweet smell of class A syrup.

Spring leaps into summer, which passes in an eye-blink, and there’s never enough time to be bored by autumn colors before the first snow, which heralds the impending mapling season that hints of spring. I can still feel March’s subtle disappointment that I hadn’t tired of snow before it was gone.

I needn’t have worried. It snowed today.

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