Cleaning Up the Garden: a Passage into Winter
During the past several weekends, I have been cleaning up my garden to prepare for the coming winter months. Bit by bit, I approached this annual seasonal project: I pulled up the remaining pepper and tomato plants, pruned bushes and shrubs, dumped potting soil into the compost bin and pile, put away chairs and tables, and swept the deck.
Now, a crispness has settled upon the ground blanketed by fallen leaves. The garden is empty and silent. Even the squirrels and birds have quieted down. All that remains is a fig tree awaiting its protective wrapping. Once I cover this tree, the season shall officially conclude. I shall visit the garden when I need a moment of reflection, but there will be no more long meals with my wife or drinks with our friends until next spring.
As I work in the garden, I look forward to the trappings and pastimes of winter. With the early nightfall, I feel no guilt settling into my chair with a book and a dark beer. The chilly days often end with a dinner of a hearty stew or a rich, meaty dish. In the winter, one can fully appreciate the comforts of hearth and home.
While I chop apart uprooted plants and work them into the compost pile, I witness the passing of the four seasons and our own role in the play of nature. Seedlings grow into flourishing, mature plants and, if graced, produce fruit or flowers. Then, those plants weaken and wither, finally returning to the soil. Their death nourishes the earth and contributes to the birth of the next year’s garden. Our lives, as mortal beings, differ little from that of the garden.
A few leaves still hang from the fig tree. Soon, I shall pluck them, tie the branches together, wrap the tree in layers of burlap, chicken wire, and plastic, and top the bundle with a bucket.
The cover hopefully will protect the tree from freezing temperatures and allow it to awake and thrive next year. With this task completed, I shall bid farewell to the harvest season and welcome the winter.