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Bringing In the Harvest

September 23, 2010


The first morning of astronomical Autumn, early sunlight on the dew-covered spider webs. These webs are what this season is named for in German, 'Altweibersommer' - 'old women's summer' - because they look like white hair tangled in all the hedges and meadows.

There isn’t much of a litteral harvest this year – the occasional handful of tomatoes, a few herbs – so I have to look at the figurative ‘harvest’:

  • seven months at a new and enjoyable job, a lot of new knowledge and experience
  • knowing how to drive – still no license, but it can’t be long now
  • some money saved – not nearly enough to buy me the garden I dream of, but still, it’s a start
  • some writing done on my many stories, and plenty of ideas, for the old ones that need to be finished, and the new ones that need to be begun
  • 38 books read since the beginning of spring, 24 books added to my ‘library’ (and all of them used – apparently, the last time I bought a new book was two days before the beginning of spring), but more importantly, 59 given away. It’s a huge achievement for me, overcoming my hoarding instincts – I hadn’t given away a book in over ten years.
  • 69 new plants bought, been given or propagated myself (I’m too lazy to figure out how many of each category), and 21 given away or sold – that latter was one of my goals for this year, making a bit of money with my plants, no matter how little. What I got is not much, but more than I expected, and now I know it works.
  • some more or less crazy needlework projects finished
  • a wonderful holiday in the Netherlands, and lots of time spent with friends (even though I still must get in touch with a few I’ve neglected for far too long)
  • and last, but not least, a blog I’ve managed to keep up with longer than I expected, and that I rather enjoy – hope you enjoy it, too!

Autumn Crocus, Naked Lady (Colchicum autumnale) 'Nancy Lindsay' (AKA C. pannonicum)

The Summer lull at work is slowly ending, with the arrival of Spring flowers (we potted up primroses last week, this week we got the flower bulbs, and I think the pansies and daisies are due in two weeks), and the arrival of Autumn customers. October, I expect, will be a busy, exhausting and annoying time, with everyone getting family graves ready for All Saints’ Day (because ‘what will people think if the graves don’t look nice?!’*) – I find they’re most obnoxious when they’re shopping for the graveyard. Because what will people think if that one pansy has one yellow leaf on it and if that chrysanthemum is not perfectly round, and that heather has a tiny dead branch?! What a scandal!

There are so many varieties of Chrysanthemums - but these plain pink ones are still dearest to me, growing in my childhood garden. When my best friend's father died, it was a branch of these that I took to the place where he fell to his death, so they'll always be connected to him.

But not long now, not long. Even while I dread those customers, the end is clearly in sight – I could even count down the days, if I wanted. This is just what our graveyard gardener customers did when they came to pick up the first load of pansies last week. Standing at the till after I’d rung them up, they started counting the weeks, calculating the days, and we joked about how we’d all go into hibernation from November till March.

I know it’s not going to be good, being unemployed again, but I can’t help looking forwards to it – to time to read, to write, to hang out with friends, to knit, to sew, to work on my languages, and read and write some more. We’ve made many crazy plans this year, and they all need to be worked on – where would I ever take the time if I were working year-round?

Ornamental kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala), full of glittering drops right after watering - an old picture from the Apprenticeship Place

Annoying customers nonwithstanding, I’m determined to enjoy the days of Autumn – the chilly morning air, dewy spider webs in the morning sun, mist over the fields, the soft warmth of the afternoons, bright berries and colourful leaves, autumn crocuses blooming in the meadows, and if I can’t have a harvest of my own, I’ll pretend I do by gathering the nuts in the hedges around the building!

Hazelnuts from the hedge, a few tomatoes from the balcony, and two Norway Maple leaves just 'cause they're pretty

I don’t know what I’m going to do with all these nuts – I don’t even like nuts! But gathering them is so much fun, so I bring home more almost every day – I seem to have some insuppressable hunter-gatherer instincts that make it impossible to pass up anything edible that’s free for the taking. And there is an amazing lot of nuts this year!

I guess if I don’t eat them myself (though we will need some for the Christmas baking, I’ll eat them on gingerbread), I can always feed them to my friends.


* The only issue I have with having to die one day is the idea of people making this sort of fuss over my grave. Maybe I should tell people to let wildflowers grow on my grave, and to write on my gravestone, ‘Didn’t care about appearances in life, and won’t care in death.’

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2010 04:51

    Aw, that’s a sweetly bitter post! People are complicated. You can’t know their weird motivations. I recommend congratulating yourself on your tolerance and compassion, and seeing how far that takes you. It ain’t easy, but it’s what life’s all about – learning compassion for the most maddening species, humans. I’ve been in service my whole life, I feel your pain.

    On the upside, you weren’t technically a winner in last week’s plant puzzler, but I know you would’ve gotten it if the photo had been better, so I gave you lots and lots of bragging rights.

    Even without knowing you, I can tell you’re a good person. Keep up the good work. And thanks for your visits to my site.

    • September 27, 2010 18:42

      Thanks, Liza!

      I guess we all try to be good people, each in their own way. But I haven’t got much patience for being good in the way other people expect. 😉 So, sooner or later, I’ll need to get away from customers!

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