I hate goodbyes, even the ones that are just for a little time. I have never been good at them; they seem so final. It is heartbreaking to have to part with anything or anyone that I really enjoy being with. So this past week, when I had to say good bye to some of my veggie gardens, it was a little sad. I always feel a little like a traitor when I have to go and yank the tomato plants out by their roots (these same plants that just weeks ago brought me so much joy) and to till under all the plants that have been so full of life. I cannot help but to think back to what seems like a few moments before, when I was planting the garden. Now, as the chilly air of fall blows up my spine, I have to say good-bye once again.
Of course the pain associated with saying “so long” never keeps me from anticipating all the things I will do differently next year. I try to keep good records of what worked, what did not, the veggies I liked and the ones I could do without, the ones that I had way too much of and the ones I wished I’d planted more of. Fall is always a great time to take stock in these kinds of things, since once winter says its farewells and gives over to spring, the excitement of another planting season can send me into a planting frenzy all over again.
The yard looks a little bare since I harvested the sunflowers and the herbs. The lavender scrubs have been cropped down, and the grapevines are drying up. Where my rhubarb once stood in all its grandeur, there are now just nubbins preparing for the winter ahead. My strawberries will soon be covered over with straw and my raspberries lie dormant for the months ahead. It is a sad sight indeed. My tools have been hosed off, oiled down and hung up for the deserved rest, and the hoses are rolled up and tucked away. It is both with sadness and with pride that I pay homage to a job well done as I carefully store them away.
The silver lining to this sad time is I do not have to say good bye to all my garden spots. A couple years ago, I discovered the joys of cold frame gardening during the winter months. This little technique extends the gardening season for such things as lettuce, spinach, and radishes, and I am so grateful for it. I am sure onlookers think it strange as I trek out through the snow to bring in some salad greens, but I am okay with that.
So, as I say good bye to the garden beds, I say hello to my the cold frame boxes…my little mini gardens. On a recent junking trip, I picked up yet another window for yet another back yard box. One of these days I will break down and get a green house, but for now these guys will do.
Inside my house, I visit the pantry and give thanks for the bounty the little gardens have provided. I enjoy seeing all the things canned, dried, and preserved that will remind me of the summer gardens as I make use of them in the winter months.
I think Shakespeare says it best with his quote, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Sweet, since I cannot be so sorry as to not every do it again, yet it brings sorrow to watch what has become such a trusted friend go away until spring. Winter means no more “shopping” in the garden for what is for dinner. I am so spoiled during the summer months, when my menu is often dictated by what I find available out the back door. I’m spoiled, too, since the yummy flavors my garden bounty has given me can rarely be duplicated by the store bought imposters.
Of course, saying good bye to the garden also means saying hello to soups and broths and homemade breads, all familiar winter friends. They will keep me company for now, while I patiently await the warmer temperatures’ return and can once again celebrate the summer garden.
Good bye old friend, see you in the spring.