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THE DANGEROUS HOPE OF AUTUMN
September 8, 2003
 
A modest riot in the garden these brisk mornings -- everyone is hurrying to produce as many blooms as possible before the cold weather comes, and the place looks like the Garden of Eden on amphetamines. I cannot decide whether it looks beautiful or terrible -- I am too used to it, to invested in each plant, and can no longer see the garden as a whole.

"There are beans on the scarlet runner vines," Q tells me. Do I want them?

"No," I say. "The scarlet runner beans are just for the humming birds. I think the beans are too big to be very good. "

"You mean you planted those just for hummingbirds?" he says. There is an important subtext here of which the reader must be aware: we do not have hummingbirds on the Geranium Farm. We have never had them. All we have is the hope of hummingbirds, and we don't have all that much of that.

He has reason to be a little annoyed -- one of the scarlet runner vines became quite luxuriant, and has shaded one of his prize tomato plants. Tomatoes need sun. Next year I won't plant a scarlet runner bean vine in his tomato patch. I don't know what got into me.

"We can give Norah some tomatoes," I suggest as we look at the red bounty on the vines, wondering what to do with them all. We have hit the neighbors on both sides. "We haven't given any to her for a while."

The most successful rose this year is a miniature. It is blooming its little heart out -- about a dozen tiny roses. Lovely. "It says that it will bloom next year if it doesn't freeeze," I tell Q. "What should we do? Put it in the garage?"

"No," he says, "It'll freeze there for sure. Maybe the basement. Like the amaryllis."

But I am not sure. I think the little rose may need some cold. I want very much for it to some back to us next year. I don't want to do the wrong thing.

Some things feel dangerous in the garden -- one false move and you've done something irrevocable. One clematis hasn't done much of anything -- not enough sun, I think, and dig it up to move it. But I am in a hurry. I tug at the roots. Nothing breaks, nothing that I know of, but the job is done hastily. Each morning I walk out to visit it, fearful of punishment: a wilting clamatis, longing for its old inadequate home. But it seems quite chipper. So far, so good.

The clematis in a blaze of violet bloom in its new home next year. The little rose, even lovelier, with even more tiny roses. The trumpet vine and the scarlet runner beans, festooned with hummingbirds. I learn hope in the fall, if I learn nothing else.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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