The morning glories stay in bloom all day--the sun too low to coax them to close. A few bursts of flowers— nicotianas, wild aster, and marigolds beckon the slow, more-bumbly-than-ever bees. The ground is cool and wet, and occasionally mud squishes up between my toes.
The tomatoes are gone. I pulled them up today, skeletal remains still hanging on their stakes as though crucified and forgotten. The basil plants, usually the first to go, stand defiant among the rust-rotted tomatoes. Too much rain this season.
A mason jar with green-tinged rainwater emerges from the bean patch, the receding leaves ratting out a watery universe of euglenas and parameciums and copepods, spontaneously generated.
When the garden looks dead, and I no longer believe life is possible, I will peek through a microscope and watch the tumbling exuberance. But not yet--let the critters toss and tumble until November, when I need to see the show.
The grapes explode in my mouth. Most huddle shriveled on the vine, scrotal remnants. Some taste like beaujolais, some need to be spat out. The ground is stained with purple bird shit, the reminders of last week's drunken choir.
When I was younger, the October garden frightened me. Honeysuckle buds that would never open, basil flowers beckoning bees that were too chilled to care saddened me. When I was younger, I suspected I was immortal... the garden whispered otherwise.
No longer. Winter is coming. My winter is coming. The irrational bloom of an annual, a flash of a fuschia the night before its last frost, makes no sense to a seedling in May. In May, the seedling has work to do--grow and flower, seduce the bee, make seeds.
Mid-October, too late to seduce the bees, to make new seeds.
Never too late to flower. A single red zinnia glows in the low October sunlight.
Leslie and I have been together 31 years. Gray hairs no longer surprise us, and we are past making any more seedlings. The leaves are changing colors.
Still, in the faintly warm light of the setting October sun, she glows. It's not winter yet. I am not ready for winter. I am starting to love autumn, though.
This was written a few years ago. Last weekend I found a tiny snow pea pod, and gave it to her. She told me it was delicious. I believe her.