Summer is now officially a memory in the nether regions of the northeast. Friday night we got our first significant frost. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded a low of 26 last night here in Burlington.
Our front yard garden has been a point of admiration for passer-bys all summer. The highlight of four large lacinato kale plants are still flush with bubbly green leaves, and the mint continues to push its rhizomes into the clay. The tomatoes have browned and withered against the upright skis and bamboo that once served as their trellised support system to look more like a strange amateur art installation.
Walking through the field this morning, the tops of the beets lay down on each other. Most of the sensitive crops we had covered with a thin white protective row cove. Among those we didn’t cover, the heartier brassicas and roots hardly seemed to notice the weekend chill, but these beet greens lay flattened and fragile, dark green and faintly translucent against the ground.
The seasonally present street performers are still on the pedestrian thoroughfare Church Street, but they’ll be dissipating and moving south or indoors soon. After all, it’s hardly wise to do a handstand on a stack of eight chairs with a sheet of ice for your floor.
The defining colored maple, oak and birch ornamentation that bring leaf peepers annually from near and far, are at least half scattered along the roadside ground. The curtain has been drawn to reveal again the forgotten views, last seen sometime in May through the branches.
I’ve anticipated this for months, and put purpose into enjoying the uncomfortably thick hot days of summer, knowing that I would pine for them . . . now. And for months.
The drastic seasons of the New England form a theatrical masterpiece every year. We are so enraptured by the aria of the hermit thrush and the blizzard’s desperate minor key, that we miss the subtle shifts, and every season are awed by sudden plummeting and abrupt soaring.
We are absorbed by the art, but it distracts us from the tale. D.H. Lawrence once urged, “Never trust the artist. Trust the tale.” There are truths behind every small thing we take for granted and look past. What they are I do not claim to know. But. Season by season it begins to seem more important that I begin to try to notice more, and to learn what they might be.
I had a housemate in Oregon who sat underneath the same tree every day, just observing, becoming familiar with the small things usually reserved for the best friend or lover.
We may not be meant to be in love with every tree or decaying barn. But we certainly could spare a few extra minutes finding out, so as not to discover our passions too late, before each falls, in turn, to the ground.