I have very mixed feelings about autumn.
On the one hand I get to harvest and enjoy the produce from my garden which every year has been getting more and more plentiful. I truly look forward to crisp and tart apples, warm stews, and the return of wooly socks. I enjoy the warm days and cool nights; “Good sleepin’ weather” as my mother always used to say. I like watching that indefinable quality of light shift from the white light of summer to the golden light of fall. I’m privileged to live in Eastern Ontario so I’m surrounded by vibrant sugar maples with their magnificent display of red, orange and yellow leaves.
On the other hand, it is the end of the easy meals of summer – of wandering through the garden to see what is perfectly ripe and making a meal of it. I see my plants that I have carefully tended since they were first planted are dying back, fully spent. They will be composted to feed the soil for next year. The days are getting shorter and it is now dark when I get up in the morning. The stone floor in my kitchen was cold enough that I had to put something on my feet when I left the windows open overnight. The weather patterns will start to shift and the rains of autumn will come. Mostly what I dislike is that this means that soon the geese with start gathering into the huge migratory flocks and making their way south. It will get colder and colder until the world freezes and goes still, blanketed under several feet of snow.
But we’re not there yet. This is a time to start dreaming. I know what worked well in my garden this year and what didn’t (damn rabbits). I know that next spring I will be starting from scratch in a new house with new gardens. I will have considerably more room. I know what I want to grow for immediate consumption and what I want to grow for storage. I’ll spend the winter planning and sketching garden designs, I’ll be thinking of spring and those first seeds that I’ll be planting. I’ll pour over the seed catalogues until they are dog-eared with pages falling out. I will no longer be a backyard gardener; I’ll be a smallholder. I can’t wait.