On warm fall days, with their golden light, I make my way outside as often as I can. I wander around the yard, looking at the garden beds that are mostly past flowering, tall stalks gone to seed, bladed foliage flopped over, hosta leaves nibbled, edges turned brown. The garden looks tired, except for the butterfly bush, which still shows spikes of deep purple, a late-blooming cleome, and the nasturtiums and zinnias that continue their colorful bloom.
I look for the beauty in this dried up, past-its-glory garden. I pause to study the seed pods on the Siberian iris, the small delicate cups filled with tiny black seeds. I pick one and scatter the seeds over a bare patch.
I used to cut much of this foliage back in the fall and pile the beds high with chopped up leaves for winter protection in case we have a low snow year. But in recent years I’ve left most of the stalks and foliage in place so the seed heads can feed birds and the flopped over foliage can provide protection for beneficial insects and other little critters. That means more to do in the spring but I’m ready for garden work then, eager to chop and rake, see what surprises lurk in the newly revealed beds.
But back to that golden light. I wander the gardens, sometimes several times in a day, just wanting to soak up the light and warmth. In the late afternoon, I sit on the sun-warmed front porch with a cup of tea; sometimes I move to the blue chair in the back, where I sit facing those bright flowers. I could live in this light forever but it’s so fleeting. Days grow shorter, colder, soon I’ll seek warmth and light from furnace and lamps, wrap blankets around me, and wear many layers to step outside where I look from afar at the foliage that pokes through the snow cover and I breathe toward spring.