I am not my Maine garden, and yet I identify with life in it!

As I arise from my bed, the fog creeps through my garden beds around the house this morning, giving it the look of a misty Gothic mystery. The tall, once-strong zinnias are faded red, like dried blood. The black-eyed Susans bend and petals pull back like vanquished soldiers. The purple petunias drop far below their hanging baskets and are no longer able to open to the sun or catch the morning dew in their mouths. Summer is gone. The flowers and I are in the autumn of life.

Through the aging flowers, a chipmunk scampers to avoid the dog, carrying nuts to his winter storage vault. I, like Chippy, harvest flower seeds, he to eat through winter and I to plant next spring. A spider, looking like the black hat my mother wore to funerals, saunters between tall stalks of iris. She is not building a web nor planning for new birth. A woolly white caterpillar in full plume inches along the faded brick walkway and eyes the gray elephant clouds in the sky marching to the water hole.

Will it rain today? The caterpillar must not get flooded away from these bricks and land in a pool at the base of the driveway. Survival is paramount. She and I are not of the plant world, but she likes wandering among them as do I. She must leave the flowers, make the trip to the tree and climb up. She encloses herself in her web to survive winter. I must pull inside as well.

Flowers and I are a clutter like an English garden; overgrowth caused by sun of summer forces the flower beds to overspread. Now is the time to cut back, thin out and transplant. Weeds were pulled all summer but they too become less active now, like I do. In summer I was awed by the abundant colors and variety, but in autumn, the flowers and I are dull. It is time to cut back, thin out and transplant my energies indoors.

I move the scarlet geraniums inside and cut them back. We will go dormant. The annuals in beds and boxes may give me pink impatiens and yellow mums for another month. The muted pink sedums are in their glory now, slipping to a cranberry color as days shorten. Hardy rust, yellow and purple mums are rival queens in the October garden.

Come winter, the hardy tulip, lily and crocus bulbs will sleep far below the half-foot of soil and foot of snow, like me under my quilts. The daisies and astilbes will survive and fight their way up next year, much like I expect to resound next summer.

I am not my garden, and yet I am.


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