2018 Garden Planner

As if a switch has been flipped, the color yellow is everywhere on my morning drive. Fields of soybeans which were uniformly green just days before are now flecked with yellow leaves. The stalks of corn too. Then the first bursts of goldenrod appear on the roadsides along with wild mustards and sunflower. Golden seed tufts of grasses shine as the early morning rays of sunshine light up the countryside.

Just weeks ago it seemed that the days were only incrementally growing shorter, but now the dusk comes in earnest and the lazy dawn languishes beneath the comfort of the distant cloud banks over Lake Michigan.

Perpetually humid days and dewey mornings are broken by cold fronts that spawn the typical thunderous storms. In their wake, a foreign cool and overcast aftermath belonging not of Summer lingers.

Then a crisp morning breeze and a dry car roof greets my morning commute like an unexpected guest to say, “Put on a hoodie. Drive to work with your headlights on. Wake a little earlier tomorrow for the fat yellow school busses are upon the roads.”

Now the fields of soybeans turn yellow all at once, it seems. The leaves begin to fall to expose naked stalks in low places. The tall standing corn too is blanching to reveal full and heavy ears. The drying orange seed peeks out betraying the harvest to come.

Cottonwood trees begin to drop beige leaves to the parking lot asphalt. A shocking betrayal.

The apathy which was sown in the garden following my summer vacation has born fruit. Only the troubling profiferation of foxtail tufts spurs me to yank them out of the soil. They come with little effort as the rains of early September have been abundant. The thick clumps of roots yield but take heavy scented clods with them. The price of eviction. I sigh and am more resigned to the other creeping crabgrasses which lie beyond my comfortable grasp. Ladyfinger seeds scatter to the ground if disturbed now. A cover crop of red clover, scattered in August, has emerged along with a new generation of vetch-lings.

Uselessly mealy apples fall to lie underneath the apple tree where bold yellow jackets abound and gorge.

Canada Thistle, vanquished in the spring and denied the opportunity to flower, has re-emerged to gather strength for the following year.

The summer squash and cucumber plants are raged and tattered, like some mouldy frigate too long at sea but encouraged by the abundant rains are still limping beyond the August line, producing the odd flower and somewhat misshapen fruit.

Prolific tomato plants are now six feet tall. Their fruits swell and crack with rainwater and fall mouldering to rot on the ground.

Taller still were the sunflower plants, but now are hobbled by the weight of their heads, stuffed with drying seed. Stooping under such a burden, their brown specked leaves now droop and yellow.

Orange headed marigolds also have bent and toppled under their own weight. The broccoli plants left to flower have also toppled here-and-there under the weight of maturing seed pods.

Late season raspberries are abundant and make a tartly sweet addition to my breakfast. To my surprise, many flourocanes turned out to be a red variety that I had presumed to have died two years ago.

The leaves of the okra plants have been falling and new flowers are sparse. Neglected pods grow to the length of my foot and harden.

As the autumnal equinox approaches, my Sunday morning is overcast and cool and breezy. The cicada song has rested leaving the chorus of crickets to perform alone. In the distance, the muffled rhythm of a marching band practices. Homecoming bonfires. High school football under the lights. Candy apples, apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin spice lattes. My head fills with the scents, sounds and tastes of the season to come.

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