Thursday, November 17, 2011

Putting the Outdoors Away




I’m never happy when we put the outdoor furnishings away.
Anne and I carry our garden things, chairs and tables, barbecue grill, back into the shed for their dull winter sleep of thingness. A few of them are heavy or awkward. I strain. I bother my back a little by bending rather than lowering my own center of gravity before lifting, as I know I should. The only lasting effect from the experience is the little flourish of bleeding I get from trying to manhandle a black wrought-iron tabletop and running my finger heedlessly into a screw. I feel it later on when I put my fingers on the keyboard.
I’m a little tense about saying goodbye.
Meanwhile the sun comes out, and the garden bleeds fall color. A last few branches of the weeping cherry still wave their half-golden leaves. I’m weeping now, because most of the leaves fell before reaching this color stage – the overall story of this season’s less than perfect de-leaving. The Japanese maple has concentrated its powers into a brilliant deep red, the final stage on this beauty. I’m hoping these leaves hang around for a while. The dogwood is bare, its spotted leaves slunk away like beaten curs after a rain. I look forward to its blood red skeleton riding the winds this winter in a gray and rusty rain.
The slender Rose of Sharon shrubs are holding on to some of their yellow leaves. They’ll disappear soon. What will last longer are the lacy seed heads of the maiden grass, weaving the wind above gold leaves of these same grasses and those of the neighboring northern seat oats. The thick growing seat oats have their own subtler seed heads that turn a nice coppery color, though this year the color is less pronounced than usual.
And what else? The biennial foxgloves are still green, though they just sat around and pretended this year. I’m expecting more next year. A hearty young hydrangea holds both its color and shape.
I’ve clipped and cut and dug and buried. I’ve gathered woody branches and thick stalks and put them into brown so-called “yard waste” bags, sorry that in small spaces like an urban garden these products represent waste to us.
I pulled up my patch of zinnias with sharper regret, along with the remains of my veggie garden,. These flowers couldn’t hold up to a couple of recent cold nights. I miss them on the following run of winsome fall days they would have enjoyed.
Back indoors after putting away the outdoors, the sun breaks through for a few minutes here and there. I peer out the window and see a lot of greens, yellows, reddish oranges and bronzey-browns still in the untrimmed shrubs and the hardy low groundcovers. Dammit, the thing is still beautiful.