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It is fall at Toad Hall. The summer growth of weeds has slowed down and I can finally get ahead of them. The lawn no longer needs to be mowed every five days. The peaches have all been harvested and either eaten or frozen. The sunflowers loom at every corner, many still in flower but others laden with their massive ripening seed-heads that will feed many birds this winter.
The day-old chicks we brought home in April began laying eggs a week or so ago. Although they are glorious looking birds, we all agree they are the stupidest flock of chickens we have kept in more than a decade of keeping chickens. Their eggs are on the small side, but at least a quarter of them have been double-yokers.
The raspberry bushes are heavy with ripening fruit. I join the bees, wasps and yellow jackets companionably enjoying the bounty. They are too intent on the fruit to mind me, and as long as I make sure there are no insects before I pluck a fruit or pop it into my mouth, I am safe from their natural eager defensiveness. Some years I have had raspberries into November, as long as the weather does not turn too cold before then, but we will see what this year brings when it brings it.
The large mounds of chrysanthemums are beginning to hum as they reach their peak glow of color. In about July I always trim them back, in order that they don’t get too leggy in the fall, and right about now they are just magnificent. I need to get out and protect them by spraying deer repellent or I’ll likely get depredated one night.
What are the colors of autumn? They are the sharp, bright, painful colors of change, and slowing down, and aging. There is a Japanese maple growing at my neighbor’s that I love madly, and each year it pains my heart with the beauty of its leaf-change. In winter, the elegant tree needs no foliage to personify beauty as it raises its arms against the frost, but the brave defiance of its symphony of color in the fall has brought me to tears.
Roses in June are the natural course of things, and are sweet and delightful and innocent. Roses in late September come unexpectedly on overgrown vines of spotty leaves that need to be deadheaded and cut back, and so they encourage and inspire. “Not dead yet!” they cheerfully proclaim. “You thought that hot, hot summer did me in, but I’m still here!”