Say Good Bye

Don’t you despise it-saying goodby? 

 Finishing a good book is a mixed blessing.  As much as the resolution of the story is eagerly anticipated, the closure is tinged with regret.  That experience has regretfully come to an end.  How many times did you read all of the Wizard of Oz books, hoping for yet another sequel?  Frank Baum reluctantly wrote several sequels to his first book of Oz-children everywhere did not want the story to end.  At one point, he wrote that Oz had lost touch with the world-there could be no more books.  The hue and cry was such that he wrote a new Oz book every year until his death in 1916, making 13 sequels to the original Wizard of Oz in all.  After his death, his publisher engaged the writer Ruth Plumly Thompkins to write another 21 Oz books.  There was a new book released every year at Christmas from 1913 until 1942-imagine.  35 books were written in all, as no child who read them ever wanted to say goodby.

I am sure you know where this is leading.  Though I have had gardened through 36 seasons, I still hate to say goodbye.  There are plenty of signs that make point to the end.  In a good year, the woody plants slow down gradually, so the state of being awake, and the state of being asleep is about the duration of a heartbeat.  The annual flowers fade.  The leaves turn color and finally drop.  The shortening of the day length is so gradual that the first day it is dark at 5pm is shocking to the bone.

But for a few cold days, we have had a long and mild fall.  Until just a few days ago, a neighbor had thick gorgeous hedges of mixed dwarf marigolds blooming.  My Japanese anemones went on and on.  However, the last sequel to this season is just about to come to a close.  A shockingly low 23 degrees yesterday made for an abrupt end to that long slide towards the end.

It was 33 degrees all day today.  My insulated fall jacket fell far short of keeping me warm.  Outside without gloves on, it felt like hands were about to fall off.  The perennial garden has been cut back to the ground.  The leaves from all of the trees have been collected, and added to a giant pile at the landscape yard.  Even the parrotias are shedding their leaves. 

 On the deck this morning, an ever so thin dusting of snow.  The sky was an unvarying shade of light lead all day.  The wind was biting.  All of the tulips are in the ground-where it is warmer than the air temperature.  They are rooting-not growing.  The trees are dark and skeletal.     

It is not my idea to leave any gardener with an image of dark and skeletal. The spirit of the garden can go on.  What goes on outside can come inside.  The memory of the garden can powerfully inform and lighten the burden of the winter season.  More on this to follow.