Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Saturday, October 13, 2012

In the Garden—Autumn

I love autumn. I think the transition seasons—spring and autumn—are my favorites. Autumn blew in one evening a couple weeks ago, with dark winds that made me think of tornadoes.

When I first feel autumn in the air, the whole world seems different and wonderful; that crisp air has an ambiance aided by layers of memory. There's nostalgia for autumn in Bellingham: walking down S. College Drive with Katie, wind buffeting us backwards, the rows of trees with their changing leaves; a pot of mulled apple cider on the stove of Lavender Corner and pumpkin muffins in the oven, warm spices in the air; listening to the Hazards of Love while it storms outside. But there's also memories from first moving to Idaho, the little joys autumn would bring me that punctuated my loneliness as I slowly settled in: the vibrancy of fall sunshine, different in Idaho than on my side of the mountains; listening to a Halloween station on Pandora while painting a giant Miller Lite can for a costume exchange; carving a pumpkin, sticking a glow stick in it, and putting it in front of my apartment to lure in trick-or-treaters, my first residence that was accessible to costumed children*; making mummy dogs for the first time.

Right now fall is at its best—the reds of the leaves contrasting so beautifully with the green still on trees. This is what I call Mabon season, or sometimes Mabon moving into Samhain—we can break out cozy scarves and cardigans, the leaves are a gorgeous rainbow echoed by yellow and russet mums in planters, but there are still petunias overflowing from pots and the farmer's market is still full of apples and pears and sweet corn and jewels of concord grapes, and we can still relish the last of the plums.

One of my strawberry plants in my garden is valiantly flowering, hoping to lure in a bee. My sunflower is blooming like there's no tomorrow. Despite the leaves of my tomato seeming to rot on the stem from the cold, tomatoes are still turning orange on its vines. My other two tomatoes, barely holding on all summer, had finally started flowering in September, giving me last-minute hope, just before the cold snap came and ruined it all. I bought a pot of russet mums, and they cheer up my doorstep something wonderful. This late in my Idaho career, I'm only putting energy into perennials I can take back to Washington with me, these chrysanthemums and my flower bulbs included.

I'll plant more bulbs soon, a few tulips as well as some snow drops and an iris I bought at the Lentil Festival. I'll check the stores for dark purple hyacinths I can pair with bright daffodils, and then all spring I can giggle to myself and make Homer allusions and toss my hair. I've been debating whether it's better to plant bulbs in a waning moon or waxing moon, and finally decided on waxing. Clear nights lately have displayed a lovely crescent moon (reminding me of someone who once called the crescent moon God's fingernail), and after Monday's new moon I'll get those bulbs in the ground.

The end of October will be a good time to dig grass and weeds out of the stepping stones around my house, and then tuck my bulbs in with a layer of compost and leaves before the cold of winter.

What's your favorite part of autumn?

*No trick-or-treaters came.

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