With no more than a glimpse of the outdoors all week, I’m shocked by the sight of fallen leaves. What happened? Suddenly it is forty degrees and the sun rose so far south that shadows loom across the lawn at midday. Fall rain makes the yard clammy and wet. Perennial leaves yellow and shrivel to hang like my querulous thoughts: is summer really over? Will there be no more tomatoes?
Empty eggplant and tomato vines stand ready for composting, except for the German Queen who holds gads of fruit slowly ripening on her fallen branches. (She’s always got to be different.) Today’s chill calls for roasting; green tomato salsa or green tomato curry, or both if the quantity seems sufficient.
Today, I may not speak to anyone other than Fred. Today I’ll be chopping up tomatoes and onions and herbs, warming the house while they simmer and blacken in olive oil or saved chicken fat, and coming in from damp yard work welcomed by intriguing, vivacious aromas. There will definitely be some sort of hot toddy involved.
Silence is restorative. Composting the fallen heroes of summer ushers in autumn and seems a fitting memorial service best done in silence. Transforming the raw fall dregs of the vegetable garden into rich pungent sauces to save for the winter feels like the right kind of alchemy to mark an ending and store the hope of beginning again.
Shamans hide their souls in earthen vessels and bury them in a secret place so that no matter what happens to the body, the soul remains safe. Not a bad idea, when you really think about it. Borrowed and bastardized, renewal and rebirth are garden ideas re-packaged by religion and self-help coaches. Everything you need to know about life is outside your back door, poking up out of the dirt, waiting patiently and quietly for you to notice it.