Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 21 December 2001
As I write, the sky is gray; snow threatens. It's been unseasonably warm; the ground isn't even frozen. Airy Campanula rotundifolia still keep opening their tiny blue bells here and there. I started to cut down the flower stem of a smooth aster (A. laevis), since the leaves on it were brown tatters... but discovered that the stem was still green and pliable; the plant had not withdrawn all its energy into the roots yet. It's a tough native; I dug up a couple from the roadside years ago; now it's all over my garden. It could probably take being chopped off green, but I hate to meddle with its natural process.
When the tops of my perennials die, I prefer to cut down the brown rags; this year I may wait till spring. It doesn't make any difference to the plants; I just like the look of the garden cleared out. Before it snows, the effect becomes the simple elegance of evergreen plants, rock walls, undulating paths, and lawn. After it snows, the sweep of snow is unbroken by straggly brown dead stems poking up.
Ward is vacuuming the variegated periwinkle; its sparkle emerges from the fallen leaves. Our next door neighbors are doing what last-minute yard work they can, too, before snow. We're supposed to get four to eight inches tonight. Will it stay; will this be the beginning of a white season? Or will we see the ground, and the low-growing plants, reemerge before spring?
In any case, we feel the change coming, deep in some part of our brain that has always responded to the weather. It feels right to be out in it, doing something in the yard to acknowledge the gathering storm.
There's a lot that won't get done, for example leaves are still deep on the flower beds in the back yard. I have struggled against growing disability all fall, hoping to get the leaves removed but finally now I feel ready to let it go, to decide this is an opportunity to learn what will be smothered by leaves and what is tough enough to take it. The wildflower bed does fine every year without ever getting the leaves off it; I can definitely use having more of my garden work that way. I'll never know until I take the risk.
So let it snow. Just as it feels right to prepare, it also feels right to stop, to enter the garden's season of rest.
© Copyright 2001 Catherine Holmes Clark