Down for the Count

It’s OK, Garden. Rest. You’ve earned it.


Wham! Blam! Pow!

It’s over, ref! Stop the fight! I’ve seen enough!

It’s been going on all Fall. Nature has been pounding my garden, hammering away, trying to knock it down for the count.

It hasn’t been a pretty sight. Or an easy fight, for that matter. Oh, sure, some plants practically turned yellow and passed out on their own. “Please,” bawled the basil, touched by just the first breath of cold weather. “I give. I give.” The cosmos, sisters in cowardice, also curdled in capitulation.

Several tried to hide. The peppers, shivering with fright, flipped empty joint compound buckets over their heads. It worked … twice. By the third night, Mr. Hard Freeze put them on ice. (“I be cold. Real cold,” he puffed.)

Several just up and ran. Oregano, gladioli, and the potted orange tucked up their roots and bolted for the back door. Safe inside, they stuck their leaves against the window (“Nan Nanny Boo-Boo!”) a couple of times, then turned their attention to me. (“Pat, would you please put some wood on the fire? I’m feeling a slight chill.”)

I don’t feel sorry for them. No, I feel for the diehards, the ones that get decked flat every night, then struggle back to their feet the next morning. The lettuces and kale, the marigolds and mums.

“Give it up!” I tell them. “You’ve done enough. It’s not worth it. It’s not your fault! It’s mine! If I had planted you earlier, you’d have had plenty of time to live out a full life, to go to seed on your own.”

Now and again, Winter teases them, backing into its corner of the ring for a few days. “I’m done. Come on out! You’re safe.”

Persistent Don Quixotes of horticulture, they do start to add new growth. Slam! Frost hits again—one, two, three nights in a row.

Now, the last leaves are wilting, too weak to hang on any longer. “It’s okay,” I tell them. “You fought valiantly. Lie down. Rest. You’ve earned it.”

“And don’t worry about Winter. He’ll get his. I’ve got reinforcements coming. By air, by land, by sea. They’ll arrive and retake all the ground you’ve lost—and more.”

“Next Spring.”

This article was published originally in 2023, in GreenPrints Issue #136.


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