Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Farewell, September

Ah September, we hardly knew ye. You arrived with bright warm days and comfortable nights, but the mosquitoes were still capable of exsanguinating the occasional victim so I didn't spend a whole of time outdoors. Then somewhere along the way the sun no longer rose over the horizon before 7 am and it got dark before 8 pm. Now September's time is spent, it's windy and cool, and there's a frost advisory for tonight. While I do love fall and the thought of mosquitoes dying by the bucketful makes me smile, I'm not ready for cold weather just yet.

Because of the aforementioned mosquitoes I've been putting off some late summer gardening chores until it turned cooler. I have several plants that I needed to get in the ground and September is a great time to do that, but the mosquitoes drove me up the wall and I kept putting it off. Plus, it had been awhile since we'd had much rain and the ground was hard as a rock. Actually the orange Montgomery Co. clay we have in the backyard turns more into terra cotta than rock when it gets dry and I hate digging in it when it gets that hard. "Later," I kept telling myself but ignoring the calendar. "I'll get it done later."

Well self, it's time to wake up and smell the later 'cause it's the last day of September and the temperatures are dropping down into the mid 30's tonight. I heard this on the radio this morning as I was cleaning out my daughter's closet, looking for her long-sleeved shirts and knee deep in outgrown summer things. My husband, who was working in the basement, could have heard me yelp in surprise.

I'm not ready for frost! I still have work to do outside! Cold weather can't come until I'm ready for it! But I didn't trust the weather to listen to me so I spent most of the afternoon transplanting some asters and joe-pye-weed, putting some blanket flower and Baptisia in the ground, cutting back the Jerusalem artichokes that had toppled over the other day in the brisk wind and generally tidying up a bit. Hopefully we'll still have a couple of weeks of mild weather in October so my transplants can get their root systems established before cold weather settles in for good. As I worked I couldn't help but bemoan the fact that I never got around to turning my compost pile properly this summer, or that my vegetables didn't do as well as I had hoped for this year. I'll probably harbor similar thoughts this time next year, too.

But it was a nice afternoon in the garden all the same. The pineapple sage is coming into its glory with scarlet flowers and the goldenrod is amazing with full, deep yellow blooms. The perennial sunflowers have seedheads now, which I'll leave up along with the coneflowers and the Liatris for the birds. This will be the last week I leave the hummingbird feeder up, but one kept buzzing around the deck to keep me company. Our dachshund had a grand time investigating the swamp milkweed beside the stock tank we use to catch rainwater. The asters are periwinkle, mauve, and purple mounds now. To my surprise, one of my azaleas out front has new flower buds on it but I doubt it'll bloom before we get really cold weather.

Later, before dinner, Ally helped me harvest a good number of eggplant and peppers and she watched with interest as I picked up the pale Jerusalem artichoke tubers from the plants I cut back earlier today. She held out the plastic bag as I dropped the produce into it. Ally was quite impressed by how heavy the bag got as the vegetables filled it up. In another month she'll be doing the same thing while trick or treating for the first time, but she'll be amazed by the candy, not produce, going into the bag. By then the long days of summer will be a memory and we'll all be dressing in layers again. With any luck I'll be too busy raiding my daughter's candy haul to complain too much about the change of the seasons.

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