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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Summer drifts out on the sunset



“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”  ~Albert Camus

The flowerbeds that I was stressing over a month ago are now bursting at the edgings with hosta and sedums, chrysanthemums and lavatera. Even the weeds look good. But then, is there such a thing as a weed? I think they’re all just wildflowers gone astray. Unsolicited sowings.
Now that autumn is almost here, I am going to take a brave shovel to my cramped perennials and split them. I’m going to move them around to give them more space, and then I’m going to dump heaps of composted sheep manure around each planting to keep the weeds down. That’s my plan. I love nothing more in the fall than to move plants and rocks around. It gives me a true sense of satisfaction. And those heavy wheelbarrow loads do wonders for the arm muscles.
For those of you who are mourning the end of summer, consider this. In September, you can actually get into the garden without fear of being carried off by a swarm of mosquitoes. The soft, refracted rays of the sun carry plenty of vitamin D with far less danger of sunburn or heat stroke. The evening breezes are much more conducive to a good night’s sleep. I love the fall.
Everyone seems to have more energy in autumn. Business picks up again, and it’s a new year for students at every level. Families are shape-shifting as little ones go to kindergarten for the first time and high school graduates head off into the real world to find their own way. It’s a season of change and new beginnings. In many ways it is even more invigorating than spring time.
For the farm animals, fall must be their favourite season. There are less bugs and the midday sun doesn’t send them running to the cool mud of the barn. The sheep and cattle wallow in the breeze, sometimes lying down to eat, Roman-style.
My holiday-bearded, sun-bronzed Farmer has morphed into a clean-cut university professor again and I am left to do the morning chores on my own, for the most part. After feeding my cats and checking on Rambo in his lock-up I love to wrap a blanket around my shoulders and sit on the back porch as I sip my green tea, watching the sheep on their diagonal path to pasture before I start my day at the computer.
The freezers are full of free-run chickens (email me if you want some!), and the turkeys (named Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving) are almost ready to head off “on holiday” themselves. Tomatoes litter the ground of our garden and we have potatoes, carrots, parsnips and beets to dry and put away for Sunday dinners to come.  The Farmer (Head Farm Chef) and I will fight over the tomatoes, as he wants them for spaghetti sauce and I want them for fresh salsa.
We are so busy this time of year; it makes me wonder what we do all winter. We will experience a momentary lull between Thanksgiving and Easter, when no lambs are born (well, there might be a couple) and the only real farming activity will be keeping feeders full of hay and water troughs free of ice. I’m looking forward to that quiet too, as I have a book to finish. 
Dad would have been 70 years old this weekend. That’s really hard to believe. He always used to say he wasn’t going back to teaching until his birthday had past. That worked out for him most years; not all. I’m sure he will be present in spirit as we roam the halls of our alma mater one last time at the North Grenville District High School reunion on September 17th. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you there.

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