It’s the end of October, but the weather is still holding up. Cold in the morning and at night, but during the day the temperature holds at solid sixties. After a few days of nasty, chilly rain the sun finally came out again. It feels like fall and looks like fall. The thick layer of colorful leaves covers my whole front yard, the roses turn into buds, and the daisies start to dry out. The autumn melancholy is slowly taking over. The backyard is still green, but covered with the greenish-blackish balls from the only remaining tree left after my husband got rid of all others. After one of our biggest trees destroyed our neighbor’s roof during Sandy, he decided that the risk was too high. I suspect it is some kind of nut, because there is a hard shell inside looking like a hazelnut. This year has been especially fruitful, since the amount of “nuts” falling from the tree exceeds anything we’ve seen before. The patio sits right under the tree, and we have to make sure that the umbrella is open when we have a meal outside to protect us from the potential head injuries. We call it our “air defense system”. We are used to the sound of something falling on our roof by now – does not scare us anymore.
This year was the first year I’ve decided to plant a garden. We’ve tried before with mixed results, mostly because we had a lot of trees that prevented the sun from reaching the plants. Now we had sun, and lots of it. I recruited my husband to do a hard labor. We’ve separated two triangular areas: the smaller one for the herb garden, the bigger one for the vegetables. The water hose was used as a ruler to mark the planting area. The lines on the ground were painted by the yellow spray, which was later used for putting all kind of messages on the fence, like who was there, when, and how we felt about each other. The first round of digging was done by a machine rented from Home Depot for a day. My herb garden was separated from the rest of the backyard by the heavy wooden border. The garden or rather the surface without the grass was starting to shape up. The rest of the digging was done by my son – the manpower with much better quality and price than the machine.
The herb garden was a success except for basil, which died out within the three days. But mint and rosemary compensated for the loss by taking all the available space in the garden. The dill and the parsley followed along filling up every spare inch. I dried out most of the mint to use for an herbal tea by putting it in the small bouquets then hanging them on the linen rope in the garage. The refreshing smell spread over and even got into the house. The benefits of aromatherapy did not go unnoticed since the house got a lot quieter for a couple of days.
The downside is that half the bowl of every salad I make is parsley. I love parsley, and hate wasting good food, so my family is forced to eat it no matter if they want it or not. They also had to eat the massive amounts of cucumbers and tomatoes, as well as zucchini and peppers. We gave away some, and pickled some, but still had leftovers. Even though the size and the shape of the vegetables were much different from the ones sold in the store, the smell and the taste compensated for slightly weird looks.
Strawberries did not start to bloom until the middle of the summer, when the official strawberry season was already over. Plus most of the crop was eaten by the squirrels before it turned red. But the strawberry bushes propagated and became stronger, so I have big hopes for the next year.
This weekend we started to clean up. It is much easier to plant then to clean up. To clean up is to accept that this is the end, that nothing else would grow and then deliciously melt in your mouth, that the outdoors would be limited to a few hours per day if you are not too lazy to put on layers of clothing, that there would be no more breakfasts on the patio enjoying the delicate morning sun. I put on gloves and old sneakers and organized the crew. We worked in silence. We raked the leaves, gathered “the nuts”, removed the dried plants, and filled in the black bags with the remains of the summer.