This past Friday, in the drizzling morning rain, I found myself cleaning out my garden. I am the first one to admit that I am terrible at keeping any plant alive, and my family will tell you the same thing. Every spring my children shake their heads and look at me with panic stricken eyes. They say things like, “Mom, really, you don’t have to do this. There are plenty of farmers and farmers’ markets around here where you can buy fruits and vegetables. The farmers NEED your business. You can even go to Hannaford. They have a whole produce department.” But I do like to grow things. I like to put a seed in the ground and water it and talk to it and care for it – well until about mid-July when I find that I have forgotten to check my garden for the past week or two, and you all know that when I do finally check it, the @#!?** weeds have taken over.
Well, this year I decided to add sugar pumpkins and squash to my garden and of course I planted the ever over-abundant producing zucchini plant. They all came up beautifully! The leaves were a luscious green and the buds were numerous on all of them. It was like Ta-Da! Everything came together. Well, I went out one day to check on their progress when I noticed something wrong with the roots. The plants still looked great, but the roots had turned to mush and gradually the mush worked its way up the stems and the plants stopped producing.
So, this past Friday I was pulling out my dashed hopes and carting them off to the compost heap. Even on this sad occasion, I enjoyed being in my garden and my thoughts carried me to a passage in Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White that is one of my all time favorites. It reads as follows:
The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone,” they sang. “Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.”
The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into fall – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.
Everybody heard the song of the crickets. Avery and Fern Arable heard it as they walked the dusty road. They knew that school would soon begin again. The young geese heard it and knew that they would never be little goslings again. Charlotte heard it and knew that she hadn’t much time left. Mrs. Zuckerman, at work in the kitchen, heard the crickets, and a sadness came over her, too. “Another summer gone,” she sighed. Lurvy, at work building a crate for Wilbur, heard the song and knew it was time to dig potatoes.
Fall, my most favorite time of year, is quickly approaching, and though there is a melancholy to the passage from Charlotte’s Web, I find it beautiful. And I thought about Fall and apples and bonfires and this passage as I worked in my garden.
My tomatoes are still doing well, and I will stew them in my kitchen while enjoying the sun shining through my windows and feeling the crispness in the almost fall air.