The afternoons still have a hint of the summer warmth, but the nights are getting cold. We’re watching those last tomatoes on their vines, hoping just a couple more of them will ripen before the first frost strikes. It’s coming. Tonight? Next week? When it does, the vines will wilt and the tomatoes will take on that glassy look that means they’re only good for chicken food. It’s sad in its way, but it’s also a relief. It’s the relief of feeling that there’s nothing else you can do.
Which isn’t true, of course. My mother will be quick to tell me that I can take some of the more promising vines inside, that I can nurse them along to get just a few more of those precious homegrown tomatoes. She’s right, of course, but that’s not the point.
I want closure. I want to dig up the vines and throw them onto the compost. I want to let the chickens into the garden so they can root around in the soil, gleaning seeds and bugs and leaving their own fertilizer behind. I want to see the bare soil so I can put this season behind me and focus on the next. This probably stems from the same reasoning that has December as my favorite gardening season. It’s all about potential. Everything still feels possible then. It’s September now. We’ve had some successes and some failures this year, just like any year. However, it’s hard for reality to compete with the promise of next year. Next year, the Red Sox will win it all. Next year, my little girl will sleep through the night and I won’t be so darn tired. And next year, all the little seedlings we nurse through the spring will burst forth into an amazing, fruitful, weed free, deer free garden.