This morning I stepped out onto my porch aerie and surveyed the world, or to be more precise, a small chunk of it along 14th Street. It was 50 degrees F. out there and the sky was cloudy. An intermittent chill breeze reminded me that we will be descending into the short days of winter before long.
I’d already eaten and revived my mind with strong coffee. I wondered how the remnants of the collaborative garden were doing. Easy to find out!
Before long I had donned a sweatshirt and was pedaling my bicycle the mile to the garden. For the first time this season the thought of gloves entered my mind. Thoreau’s term “finger cold” occurred to me.
Once at the garden I picked what might be the last of the eggplants from five-foot-tall plants which seemed to be wondering why they weren’t in their native semi-tropical habitat. I set the eggplants down near a late planting of leaf lettuce and kale. The kale impressed me with its vigor, as if it were saying, “This is my kind of weather!” Notice the little volunteer dill plant which, against all odds, has sprung up near the lettuce:
Here’s a closer look at a kale leaf, which had morning dewdrops adhering to its curled edges. I kneeled down and immersed myself in cool leafy observation:
My fellow gardener Jeff had tilled up a bean patch and seeded it to annual rye, a green manure plant. Deer footprints pockmarked the loamy and moist soil. I have few tender and sentimental feelings about deer; I try to resist thinking of them as large horned vermin. Two damaged vehicles and innumerable garden depredations over the years have jaundiced my feelings towards the species.
As an antidote to such negative thoughts I think back to the most memorable encounter I have ever had with a white-tailed deer. I was walking through an overgrown pasture one late-spring day many years ago. I saw an immobile form nestled in a clump of fescue grass intermingled with Tall Hairy Agrimony, Mountain Mint, and inconspicuous Self-Heal plants. I stopped and squatted down. A small fawn, its speckled coat looking like sun dapples filtered by overhanging leaves, pointedly looked away from me, instinctively knowing that predators notice the gleam of mammalian eyes. The fawn would not look my way, so I reached out and gently touched its back. The frightened creature could not take such familiarity; it “broke cover”, leaping to its unsteady feet and bounding away into thicker underbrush.