September is a time for reminiscence and reflection: time for all to take a collective exhale as we look back on the growing season. The pace has slowed and we turn our attention to gathering harvests and preparing the delicious comfort food of autumn.
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In the garden, a mourning dove calls. The heat of the day is already boasting of its strength, but there’s a slight wind with a gentle touch as it cools the sweat of my brow. The air is saturated and heavy, but the prize offers a brief reprieve in radiant red. It’s tomato season.
Independence day feels a little different this year. The country is divided. It seems as though you’re either blue or red with no room for indecision. In the garden things are much different. My borage is still blue, and my tomatoes will be red, but there are colors between. My summer and winter squash are a brilliant yellow. The Cosmos and Calendula are flamingo pink and fire orange. Broccoli of violet and beans of scarlet. I have sunflowers that are the color of a Madaket sunset, and peas that are as green as an Irish summer. There is diversity, there is middle ground, there is understanding and support. My “three sisters” bed is exploding with companionship. No plant is the same, but they all work together for the greater good. If only a country was as easily run as a garden is to manage.
The year 2020 has delivered many challenges. Everything from the Japanese Murder Wasps to the pandemic and protests. There is a shift. Not only in congress and country, but in the fabric of our fields. Our cool crops wain and our spring begins to yield. Tomatoes seem to double in size and the zucchini is about to bloom. Pole beans are on the trellis and the herbs are on our spoon.
Nantucket is known for its roses, particularly in the town of ‘Sconset…such quaint, squinting faces, smiling as you stroll past. This season, we might be greeted by the roses more often than our usual annual visitors. As with people, roses can be a bit thorny, but give them a chance and you’ll see that the more attention you pay, the more sunsets you spend, a “New Dawn’ will rise. Roses can be a complicated and unforgiving challenge, but when done right, there is no better reward. Whether it be heirloom roses or hybrid tea, one thing holds true, you’ll need sunlight. . .
As I sit in the back garden basking in the glory of a Kwanzan cherry tree, its prolific pink petals parachute gracefully to the ground. The wind whispers through the canopy and the mind begins to wonder. Will my pepper seedlings ever start to grow? Is it too late to sow more peas? What will Nantucket’s summer look like in this “new normal’’? Although these questions can paralyze any action, I think it’s important to do just that. Act…