Early yesterday morning I took the dogs for a walk at Ramshorn. There's a path laid through a marshy area, with tall, water-loving grasses stretching tall and dense on either side. The Joe Pye Weed and chickory looked tired and ragged, ready to call it a day. We walked to where the river brushes the shore, the small inlet where people lower in canoes and kayaks. The tide was out, but even so the water was lower than it should be, muddy, with early morning mist sweeping over it, not wanting to set its delicate feet down on the thick brown soup. Only the cattails, young and slender, are holding fast against the rapid aging of Summer. A broken stalk was on the path; I picked it up and tried to open it, but it was clenched tight, waiting, not ready to let go just yet.
This is my very least favorite time of year. I've stopped having coffee on the porch; it's too hot and humid, and the yard and garden of our would-be farm/homestead stand in silent, neglected accusation, a montage of good intentions and abject failure. Off to the right of the porch are the zukes & cukes that started so promisingly but were viciously attacked by squash vine borers. On the upper left of the yard is the grape arbor, unpruned, so heavy it broke the support wires; the poor grapes are at the mercy of mildew and fungus. Straight ahead are the now-empty garlic beds. We did harvest the garlic, but I waited too long and am not sure they'll have enough layers of skin to protect them for long storage. And somehow we lost the map of which varieties we'd planted where, so there's only guessing what's what.
My heart is breaking for the potted lavender plants that aren't thriving...we're losing a fair amount to some situation I can't quite identify. I need to repot them, perhaps with some sand added in, and even better drainage, to hold through Winter. My bok choy long ago bolted, and I haven't picked the beets. Even the garlic scapes and peas, though harvested, were neglected and not used as they should have been. August is a steamy, oppressive litany of failures, and testament to the misuse of the limited time available. I've barely written, just enough that it hasn't left me, like watering basil just as it's limping into oblivion, and seeing it revive. Oh, I can--and do--blame work. I do children's programming at a library, and summer is by far the busiest time; I had three children's events just this past Saturday alone. It's a big summer-home community, so we're busy non-stop from early July through Labor Day. One of my semi-valid excuses for the neglect of the things truly important to me is that I'm weary and crispy like toast by the end of a work day. Time may be in short supply, but excuses are as prolific and persistent as the flies this year.
And so now my mind and heart turn to Fall. It's around the corner, at least the secular version of the season. Labor Day is four weeks away. My summer programming is winding down with only six more events to go. We'll pick the stray tomatoes that appear, and soon it will be time to hunt down San Marzano tomatoes at farm stands for making and freezing sauce. We'll clear off the kitchen table, hidden under boxes of seed packets. We'll repot the lavender, saying a prayer it survives Winter and is blissed out next year. We'll plant the two dozen elderberries patiently waiting out summer in 5 gallon buckets. And I'll wait anxiously for the first chill, the first opportunity to make soup for dinner, for August to become September, for cooler days that let me go outside and erase the failures of this year and lay the groundwork for next Spring.
Oh yeah...and we'll watch our new baby grow up & become part of the family. Almost four weeks ago, as I was brushing my teeth before leaving for work, through the open bathroom window I heard an unmistakable sound. Toothbrush still in my mouth, I muttered "oh no, no, no...." and looked outside. There, just across the road, was a teeny kitten (anyone who knows me or has followed my blog over the years HAD to see that coming!), trotting along our very busy road, crying loudly. It took some effort, and unfortunately a bad case of poison ivy for Linda, but the feral little guy was captured. The intention was to get him more people-oriented, as well as big & healthy, and send him to the shelter for adoption.
How about you? How has your garden grown (literally or figuratively)? Are you clinging to Summer or ready to toss it aside? And hey--got any name suggestions for a male kitten who appears to be all black?