My gardening plans took an abrupt turn this morning, as I realized that not even 6 mil plastic or old tarps can fend off 25 degree frost.
Beans, done. Summer squash, done. Winter squash, done. Cucumbers, done (although there may be a vine or two that survived.) Peppers and eggplant, of course. Basil, a fragrant memory. Tomatillo, maybe I can harvest the fruits but they are so small I don't know if it's worth it. Tomatoes...I'm beginning to wonder if it's possible here.
I really thought I would feel more devastated than I did. I may have uttered an expletive or two when I first viewed the damage, but surprisingly I was thinking, Okay. So the final crop will be less than expected, but what has been the harvest this year?
The harvest has well exceeded the crop. Although I won't have a bumper crop of tomatoes this year, and I won't even get to taste some of the varieties I planted, I still come away from this gardening season with more than what I put into it. I have the knowledge, from observing soil conditions, plant health and insects, but it's more than what I learned. I realized that the largest harvest comes from the doing, the planning, the moments spent out there looking across the swamp, the morning I saw the harriers in their courtship flight, the honest muscle aches from a hard day's work, the standing back and seeing the beauty of it all. The crop is just a small part of the harvest.
I have had my fill of summer squash. Of cucumbers. I have enjoyed a few tomatoes, and the smell of fresh basil. I have a bucket full of onions, and enough garlic to last for a while. Tomorrow I will plant more lettuce and kale and spinach; even in autumn there is still room for growth. Carrots still wave their feathery heads, and the Swiss chard is indestructible. I have rutabagas, and parsnips, and potatoes to dig. And there are enough ripe, and almost ripe tomatoes, and maybe a few pints of green tomato salsa to make.
As a matter of fact, I could not help but notice the overwhelming beauty of the world today. The kids spied a red-tailed hawk riding the wind currents, and said "Mom! An eagle with a red tail!" Asters bloomed everywhere. I took a walk in the woods with Calvin and discovered parts of our own land I'd long forgotten. The sky was a clear, piercing blue, the woods smelling of frost and decaying ferns and pine needles. I found a new blueberry patch, on our land, to check next year, and blackberry growing everywhere. It was all wonderful, the best place I could ever hope for. The small setbacks; they are just that. In the larger scheme of things, this is it. Living in the moment.