After six months of wandering in and out of the garden, sometimes crossing paths with each other, but many times working alone because of varying schedules, the Green Thumbs came together on Sunday to pick the last of our cherry tomatoes, eggplant and beans and to dismantle the garden.
We worked together to fill up two wheelbarrows with plant debris and make trips back and forth to the compost pile. We pulled up stakes and poles from the dirt and rolled up the mesh fencing that protected our spot. We untangled tomato branches from their surrounding wire cages. We returned gnomes and tools to their proper owners and made plans for winter storage.
Then we raked the plot one last time, vowed to plant more vegetables again next spring, and scattered ourselves on to other obligations.
As I drove away, I felt relief that “check the garden” could be erased from my to-do list for a while. The shorter days and cooler temperatures signaled a need to think about spending more time indoors. But I still wanted to make a connection with the beauty of fall.
The day before, I had visited a local book festival with my 12-year-old son. The weather was misty, cold and dreary. Walking back to the car, we passed a tree whose leaves were such an amazing color of red that we had to stop and admire its beauty. We watched a squirrel play peek-a-boo among the branches. I picked one of the wet leaves from the ground and put it in the back seat of the car.
I forgot about the leaf until this morning. The stem and veins remain sturdy and strong. But its soft, vibrant skin has faded and crumbled.
This time of year, my family spends much time driving to get from one sports event to another. When I see a tree that we should stop and admire, I exclaim “beautiful tree alert!” to my sons. But we’re too busy to give the scene more than a glance as it flashes by us. Similar to the way my leaf lost its glory, a beautiful fall tree can lose some of its wonder before we pass it again.
Autumn is in full swing. Orchards are full of apples. Pumpkins are set on porches. Colorful leaves parachute past my window with gusts of wind.
The community garden is on hold until spring, but my interest in gardening is not.
So I’m replacing “check the garden” on my calendar with “check out the beautiful leaves,” at least until December
After all, the world is a beautiful garden that I don’t want to miss.