At the end of spring I started a new ritual. Every morning I’d get up, make coffee, stumble about being grumpy until it was finished, and settle myself at my desk, where I would immediately check the weather. I watched the forecasts obsessively, watching the virtual mercury rise — slowly — until it would be consistently warm enough to get on with life.
First, I watched for the days to be above 70 degrees for a solid week so that Connor and I could make outside plans. Then, I watched for the nights to stay above 55 degrees so that I could plant the garden without stunting and/or killing my tomatoes. Finally, I waited over a month for the temperature to remain firmly in the 95-100 range so that I could declare it officially summertime. As the summer got underway, I got a little busy with — well, with summer things. The garden. The sprinklers. The incredibly neglected, incredibly ugly “lawn” that I was determined to mow the scare quotes off of before summer’s end. The park. You know, summer stuff.
I stopped checking the weather around, oh, the end of July. It was going to be 100 degrees before 10:00AM forever! My garden would be producing gigantic fruit forever! The lawn would be pretty, lush, and emerald green forever! Yay! Except that’s apparently not how it works, and I am obsessively checking the weather again. Did you know that things cool off in September? Did you know that there is rain, and cold nights, and overcast days? I somehow managed to forget these things.
I went out to water the garden today and everything was just a little sad. My tomatoes are still plugging away, but everything’s kind of… withered. Elderly. The “second harvest” I was so jubilant about turned into nothing more than ten puny tomatoes that are failing to ripen. My cucumber leaves are turning brown, and I don’t think the last few baby cukes are going to make it. The butternut squash is pretty much dead — it produced massive, gorgeous yellow flowers a couple of weeks ago and then everything fell over. The air was a little chilly as I watered, even though it was 2:00 in the afternoon. Nothing’s really getting much sun anymore; the shade creeps in earlier every day.
We haven’t gone to the park in over a week. It’s always either about to rain, or a little cold, or too muddy from yesterday’s rain. The sprinklers have become unnecessary, because the lawn — which was beautiful for, oh, three weeks — isn’t really growing anymore. Everything’s still green, but it’s an old green, a faded green. I’ve cut down two of the tomato plants already, and I have plans for the rest of the garden: cutting down the plants, storing the soil safely, sterilizing pots, turning the cucurbits bed into a winter compost box. I know I was just blathering at great length about how much I’m looking forward to autumn, but all I could think today was, Man, having a garden sure makes winter more depressing.
It’s been one of the best summers of my life. I’m so proud of my garden and my yard — proud of the little bit of ours I carved out of theirs. I’m going to be sad to see it (and summer) go.