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Green Acre #29: Fall’s Precious Days

A rain-slicked residential sidewalk. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

A rain-slicked residential sidewalk. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

THIS MORNING IS rainy and mild, red and orange and golden leaves soggy the sidewalks while those remaining on the trees imitate sunlight against the dreary sky. Delightfully melancholy.

Tomorrow promises to be cool and crisp, foretelling a bubble-bath evening. I love these autumn hours, when Indian summer (can we still call it that?) appears to be past; when neighbors entirely abandon their stabs at kempt and let what’s left of the vines creep out of bounds, and the flowers frolic and tangle among them as the first mild flickers of winter encroach.

Some very tender plants have already succumbed to an early chill, going a bit limp and stringy, just hanging on, leaves tethered to branches by glutinous threads. Beside them, pink and red roses are still blooming, and the geraniums are

The improbably perky hibiscus. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

The happy hibiscus, now indoors. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

wondrously perky, both foolishly believing that warmth will go on forever.

The Prince and I hurriedly uprooted the garden last weekend, repotting and hauling summer to the little conservatory he created from the porch outside my office. This required much cursing, since the older we get, the heavier grow the pots. Sorry observation that, yes?

But the white bird of paradise looks grand out there, unfurled in the corner, and the hibiscus sports a brilliant pink blossom and plenty more buds. Worth a little back strain, I made sure to murmur to the schlepper-in-chief sympathetically.

Now the tulips must be planted, followed by Epsom salts and a heating pad.

Soon, frost will dust the morning plants, and the temperature won’t climb much above freezing. Soon I’ll be tugging on my boots and gloves and crunching a path to Eastern Market for chicken and cheese, iced leaves lining my way.

Finding beauty in the transience of life. The Japanese call it wabi-sabi.

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

LittleBird Stephanie is working on a book about city gardening. We hope she won’t finish any time soon so that we can continue to read her missives from Capitol Hill. To read earlier Green Acre columns, type Green Acre into the Search box at the top right of the page.

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