Saturday, October 11, 2008

October Morning

Seattle gets these October days sometimes: cold and bright. It's so un-northwest. Then again, who am I to be defining northwest, having lived here all of two years? I just have my preconceptions and my limited data.

The leaves take forever to turn in Seattle (this much I know), making the Fall show a long-running affair. Fall color doesn't happen in vast swaths like it does in the mountains of Southern Utah, where I used to live--whole sides of the mountains lighting up, or tracts of copper and blood red running among endless stands of evergreens. Here, everything turns at different times. One tree goes yellow to red (like a flame burning slowly down from the tips of its branches) beside another still lush and green.

Leaves begin to litter the streets, like scattered gold coins. When the wind comes, it heaps them into drifts against the curbs. Summer's riches spilled, given freely in the end, gorgeous before they pass away, ephemeral as all things. The light on mornings like this one comes slanting in and makes each exhalation a plume of smoke, passing rapidly up and away. I am a dragon. People wear vests, leave their cars running while they run in for coffee. I sit outside because it's dry, but my fingers get cold.

I am experimenting with moving chard. As I've thinned our winter beds, I've taken the thinnings and moved them into other beds. If it works, great! If not, bummer, it's my last resort. I asked my dad (yes: garden expert) if he thought it was a good idea to trim the little plants back like you do when you dig up and move perennials, and he told me that even the old wisdom about perennials has been questioned recently in this new book, which he highly recommends: The Informed Gardener by Linda Chalker-Scott.

The little plants are intact, and I hope the cold doesn't cause them to lose all hope in the midst of their difficult transition.


d.edlen said...

I've been thinking about something. As a philosophical academic turned intellectual gardener, it'd be right up your dirt pathway.

Indigigenous plants growing without human intervention have usually adapted to their surroundings and environment. Changes are slow and individual plants on the whole usually live their expected lifecycle without incident. When humans get involved, planting plants in pots and creating artificial environments usually inconsistently, the plants have traumatic lives, often full of disease, irregular growth and premature death.

Is that what we're doing to ourselves?

I have a very very hardy plant in a pot in our living room. It'd take a long time of neglect for it to die. I haven't repotted it ever and only give it simple tap water. It grows. Not much, and only when I water it more. Why should it grow? It'll just OUTgrow its pot. When I water it just right, in my opinion, it doesn't grow but a little and it also doesn't loose leaves due to a lack of water.

Are we overwatering our economy and society? Are we outgrowing our pot?

The problem becomes when external factors, like if we were to not be able to afford water, force a change in the manufactured environment. This is what our country is going through now. We overwatered, overgrew and now the artificially caused growth is hurting us. Too many leaves requiring too much nutrition and water are shriveling due to the tragedy of the commons. Hmm, where else can you take this?

Just a thought, an extended metaphor to explore.


Matt Smaus said...