|"Blackie" Sweet Potato Vine|
When I lived in the northeastern US, I actually found the early weeks of fall to be a little bit stressful, ironically because they were so beautiful—I was keenly aware of a pressure to enjoy the moment. Every time I walked past a maple tree, I felt like I ought to be having an intense aesthetic experience: marveling at every nuance of color on every leaf, soaking up the glory of the entire tree, shuffling my feet joyfully through the fallen foliage, inhaling its musty, damp fragrance and saying "Aahhh" with deeply felt satisfaction. A lot of fuss is made of leaf-peeping season in that part of the country; interactive websites even guide peepers to areas of peak color.* If you happen to drive past a breath-taking scene while distracted by work or your grocery shopping or—heaven forbid—the road conditions, you feel like you're letting the side down.
It doesn't help to know that the steely jaws of The Unicloud (as my older nephew refers to it—the vast, gray layer of altostratus that settles in in November and doesn't leave until—well, that doesn't leave)—that steely jaws, I say, are about to clamp down on the horizon any day, and that you won't be seeing much color again until the trillium bloom in spring. You feel like you'd better get a lot of appreciating done before it's too late.
So I was always relieved when the leaves would get just past peak color. I no longer felt like I should be having a transcendent, life-changing experience every time I saw a tree but could go back to enjoying things in the regular way. You could let expectation go, and allow autumn to run its course (as if it wouldn't have in any case) while you rode its rhythms comfortably.
This past week has been a more than ordinarily intense CFS week. I caught a minor cold, which in turn caused a serious flare-up. I've had to let a number of things go, and one of them has been the care and upkeep of the micro-garden. That little 2' x 4' garden has given me sautéeing greens, scallions, and herbs—an average of two cups a day—for several months now, in exchange for a few minutes a day of watering, dead-heading, pest-chasing, and the like. We're closing in hard on frost, so the season will be ending soon anyway; I've just ended up hastening the process a little bit.
|Purple basil in bloom at long last|
One of my friends in Vermont at some point every autumn declares momentously, "I'm not dead-heading my container annuals any more." She always sounds a little defiant about it, a little defensive about letting flowers that are still going strong run to seed; but she always sounds a little gleeful, too, about taking the plunge into...inaction.
Often, having to let things go is a burden.
But sometimes it's a lovely, lovely grace.
* Thanks to P.H. for bringing this one to my attention!