We are in the times of the autumnal equinox, when the daytime is approximately as long as the nighttime—just for one day. It's a turning point. As a gardener, that means cleaning up from summer and completing fall transplanting or other tasks during the precious hours of daylight that are still available.
The days are surely growing shorter, as they have been since the summer solstice. But we haven't really noticed until recently. Or at least I haven't noticed, maybe because I am in denial. But in looking through my picture window (where all my houseplants live), I can tell the sun is coming in from a different angle, slant-like these days. Sigh. I can't bring summer back, any more than the man in the moon can.
Although an Indian Summer, defined as an unseasonably hot spell after a frost, can fool us, or lull us back into an "Endless Summer" frame of mind, cold weather and shorter days are here to stay, until next year, anyway. We might as well make the best of it.
It's time to go around the yard and set things right. Pull out the aging annuals, clear the vegetable garden of dead vegetation, trim the grass, get a handle on all the weeds, harvest seeds.
For me, as a college mom, fall also means attending football games to watch my son perform in the marching band at halftime. Or at least until November, when I can no longer sit comfortably for hours in a cold stadium.
One nice thing about cold weather, though, is that it's time to turn up the oven! Without agony! Because the heat of summer is gone. So, among other things, my fancy turns once again to baking cookies and pies. Not just for Thanksgiving, although I will keep that in mind. It's apple, pumpkin, and mums time! Apples and pumpkins make the best pies! And they go hand in hand with college kids (missing Mom's home-cooking) who are home for the holidays.
Besides baking again now that the oppressive heat of summer is past, there are still plenty of things that a gardener can do to pass the time. Drying and storing seeds rank high in importance for many of us. Some of us might be growing fall crops in our vegetable gardens. Some of us are raking leaves and decorating our yards with mums and other fall décor, with Halloween on our minds.
It came so suddenly, this changing of seasons. I must confess, though, that I am glad to be "turning the page". As much as I liked summer, I am a bit tired. And I am a bit weary. And I don't want one more mosquito bite while taking photographs outdoors. For that reason alone, I welcome fall with open arms.
For those of us who love to dabble in digital photography, there are still plenty of things to shoot. It's just that our focus now (literally) is toward putting things away rather than on the new beginnings that spring and summer offer us. Summer flowers have faded, but fall has a certain beauty of its own.
For one thing, the sky is full of glorious sunsets now that the earth's position relative to the sun is different. For another, the oranges, reds, browns, and yellows of fall are beckoning. So, grab the camera, hop in the car, and go out and take some pictures! The colors of fall can be breathtaking. It's a special time that we shouldn't pass up, no matter who we are or what we do.
So, turn the page. It's okay. It's how things are meant to be.
- September in the Garden by Joyce B. Gladden, 9/2/2010
- Shake down your plants for free seed: an introduction to collecting seeds by Jill M. Nicolaus, 10/16/2008
- Seeds: Collecting, saving and sowing by Adina Dosan, 3/25/2009
- "Magical Colors" (Mommy, why do the leaves change color?) by Jacqueline Cross, 11/2/2009