“O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.”
– Robert Frost, October
Robert lived just up the road. And I find his words to be my own as I survey the land this morning. The garden has changed with the longer, frosty nights as the Northern Hemisphere turns a cold shoulder to the sun. A Saturday surprise was the abundance of Dahlia blooms sprinkled through the garden. I waited patiently for the entire summer for some of these blooms and they chose October to make their debut. Still, I’m grateful for their tardy appearance, for like the late roses they persist against the hard reality of Autumn.
I thought about a long hike on Saturday, but looking around the yard and garden it was clear I needed time here to do the work that must be done between seasons. A survey of the garden revealed my own grape vines were burnt and the last of the fruit was well past. Grapes are funny that way; bursting onto the scene all at once, and you can’t possibly eat them all. Friends politely ignore your offer to take some, and instead the yellow jackets and birds eagerly take the lead in finishing off the ripe fruit. I don’t have the ambition to make preserves and concede the grapes to the wild.
Autumn is a magical time, and generally I’m deeply immersed in the transition. 2020 feels different in so many ways from previous years, and Autumn is no different. The persistent drought has the foliage sweeping through earlier and dropping faster. The news cycle makes me dizzy as every day something bigger seems to be breaking. Best to be in the garden, I think, than to wrap yourself in a blanket of endless narrative. And the garden reveals the truth of the matter. The world goes on without the news. Its October, that’s no surprise, and the leaves are falling more quickly than you’d like them to. Why not get out amongst them and thank them for their service?