September marches in. With it the Pacific morning fogs. Dew bussed squash. Sun parts the gray curtains by noon, diligently warming tomatoes and ripening peppers.
In our front, with winter in mind, a black squirrel clambers up my second tallest sunflower and it crashes to the ground. Tiiimmmbbeeerrr!!
The Cosmos that colored our front yard go to seed in a host of yellow finches. Orange butterflies swarm the ranging passionflower vine, scoping out the best place to lay eggs. Our lemon cucumber plants struggle to spit out a couple handful of golf ball sized veggies and the raccoons make off with the long awaited San Marzanos.
It is the beginning of the end. Of my summer garden. My sunflowers did better than I had hoped for - even when deer nibbled them down to the dirt last spring. The pumpkins never came but banana squash overtook the sidewalk strip, birthing thirty pound toddlers that lay in the weeds like sleeping children. The Hungarian pepper plant yielded far more than I had hoped for - causing several hours spent in front of the computer and then the stove.
The strawberries plod along, offering a handful of scarlet berries week in and out. Purple Peruvians and La Ratte fingerlings slowly tilt, hiding their treasure under mounds of compost. Ground cherries are a distant, and disappointing, memory.
Ruthlessly, I yank out the last of dilapidated and fruitless tomato plants, shell the dried Calypso beans and the bolted lettuce. I'm clearing space.
It feels like yesterday that I typed out my dreams for a summer garden. For bountiful tomatoes, burgeoning pumpkins, sprinting pole beans. Some of those dreams came to pass. Others? That is why they are called dreams.
But it is the promise, the hope, the excited uncertainty that has me poking pea seeds into the ground this September. Scattering carrot, radish and beet seeds in a thick blanket throughout the raised beds. Removing tired wildflowers from the butterfly garden to make way for cover crop - fava beans, vetch, bell beans and snap peas.
It is that promise that keeps me coming back, year after year.