I used to cry at the end of summer when the garden fell to its knees, the ruin of its gone to flower mantle like a cardiac arrest of rainbows. Each swollen, unpicked squash was a damnation of my insolence, each bending vine of bleeding tomatoes, cherry orbs with seeds at ready, so ready they burst the seam of the fruit, a wound that cut the skin and my eyes.
How easy it is to love a full expanse of ripe to be useful things. How hard it is to appreciate what has lost its saturation, that vibrancy of immediate collectibility. My favorite garden is of course a real garden. Right now, the sunflowers are heaving over in their faint of seed-building. That is not going to happen in October. They will crash to the ground soon. With no children for the future of their kind. I planted those too late. Realizing that people are like gardens has helped me to see my rectangular, almost, down for the count patch of whithering yellow-blossomed broccoli and last minute cucumbers as a true Keatsian place of beauty.
I have harvested. Spent hours in the kitchen with the canner on my 1960s-era stove, watching the pressure cooker annihilate and procreate. The jars of salsa and the jars of squash and the jars of pickles--never a known quality--are packed soldierlike in their pantry boxes, away from the sun for the first time. Blueberries were stalwarts this season and these are now unrecognizable in the freezer, a candidate for moonlit lights and candled suppers. When my garden is long underground, beneath the throes of winter's gardening expertise, I have these tip of my tongue memories.
So as I stand outside in the rains of autumn and look at the fading heads and spikes of green moving to a gray abandon, I smile.