Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Grasshopper Days

What should one do when summer won't yield?   When the warm socks and fleeces are still buried in the drawers?  When mosquitoes and wasps still haunt the cool places on your porch?  When the calendar says October but the thermometer says Labor Day? When clean up tasks literally "fall"prey to the impulse to finish a big fat summer novel and escape the low hanging sun in the cool shade.

The whole situation reminds me of the Aesop's fable...remember it?  
The Grasshopper and the Ant?
There's the grasshopper with his fiddle, celebrating the continuing warmth and wealth and bounty of glorious September...and there are the prudent ants, gathering and storing and preparing for the worst.

I've got a little of that grasshopper in me these days.  It is past time to retrieve the pumpkin lights from the basement...but the big colocasia in the pots on the front porch are taller than I am!  And the coleus is still pretty!  Well...what's the harm in pretending it's still August and watering them one more time before mornings are frosty.....
The vegetable garden has long since been engulfed in volunteer cuphea and cardinal climber. The outdoor table and chairs have become trellises for morning glory and sweet potato. Pulling all those vines is a big chore: there's  a lot of plant material to be hauled off from garden cart to pickup to compost hole...

...but, on the other hand, there may well be an entire bucket of ripe tomatoes under there, including some volunteers of  'Mr. Stripey'.  After these are gone, it's a good nine months until we eat another fresh BLT.  What's a week or two of waiting weighed against the essence of summer encapsulated within those tender skins?  It's Grasshopper 1 and Ants 0...  I'll eat my sandwiches today and pay the price in November..... 

I compensate for my lack-a-daise by clipping off flourishing sprouts of mulberry trees and trumpet vines.  But it is easy to be distracted by the last volunteer Black Eyed Susans or
the bejeweled branches of the crabapple trees.  After all, these too are ephemeral and will fall prey to the Furies of the first Arctic cold front or the hunger pangs of cardinals and other fall feeders.
The multitudes of daylilies are nothing more than a few fresh leafy blades beneath an antler rack of dead flower stalks.  But this particular October, 'Happy Returns' is back for at least its third encore.  This over achievement deserves recognition...
...as do the disco ball hues of the final hydrangea blossoms.  Unlike the daylilies, the hydrangeas save their best for the last dying embers of summer weather, as befits divas unwilling to share the spotlight. "Pink?  Blue?  Violet?  Oh, I cannot make up my mind...I'll just have to wear all three!"
The big yellow dump truck and Noah's ark float in the blue kiddie pool, sunk during the last warm play date and further submerged by September rains.  Now the pool water is a tannic brown, stained by fallen basswood and sycamore leaves and home to a multitude of legless big eyed black tadpoles, sprung seemingly by spontaneous generation from the soggy plant material.  Is it possible for these little swimmers to mature enough to leave this temporary bog and survive the coming winter?  I'm not optimistic, but I err on the side of security and make sure the watering cans I fill are tadpole free.  Last winter the kids helped me scoop bucket after bucket of tadpoles, transplanting them to the big pond before I emptied the little pool for winter storage.  This day, the tadpoles pose for a portrait and a reprieve before emigration.

Never fear...I'm not so fond of grasshoppers that I wish to be identified with even a fabled one with a fiddle.  No, distractions of a glorious summery afternoon aside, it's good to have warm sun on my back as I bend to the tasks at hand, filling the back of the pickup with weary bloomers and weather beaten foliage...
....bound for the compost heap of 2015, soon to be one with the historical midden of our greenhouse, to decompose and be naught but a warm technicolor memory to savor in the cold months that will surely come.

1 comment:

  1. Ready or not fall is upon us. With it will come the cooler temps and the need to pull those warm socks out of the back of the drawer.
    Thank you for linking up with the Country Fair Blog Party!