Technically Not Winter

It is late fall.

A couple of weeks ago we had our first hard freeze, which came earlier than last year’s but later than, on average, it’s supposed to.

Just before the freeze the tuberose bloomed, an eye-level flower spike of dusty pink and nearly sickly-sweet blooms.

The ginger lilies bloomed, too, and late one evening when we went to look for bears large moths—as big as my hand, the size of a sparrow—came to feed at the blooms, flitting from ginger lily to tuberose, guided by a deep perfume and pale blossoms glowing in the half-moonlight.

Before the first freeze we found bumblebees in odd places; sluggish on the stoop, comatose in the early morning on a coneflower.  A quiet slowing.

It’s planting time—again—and I scatter seeds over soil.  Turnips, collards, radishes.  Beets and greens.

I squeeze in more saffron crocuses; every other bare patch gets garlic.

The basil is showing its age—dotted with brown spots and dropping leaves, telling me that it’s time,that the summer harvest is over.

It is late fall.

The sun casts longer shadows and hangs at a slumping slant.

The air in the mornings is crisp as an apple.

It is late fall.

I take a deep breath.

I dig.

I plant.

I wait for spring.

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