The Decline of the West

Last night, Handy and I sat on the screen porch in our usual spots.  The setting sun dragged the temperature down and we wrapped up in knitted blankets.  (Is it still politically correct to call a “knitted throw” an “Afghan blanket?”)

I suppose I could have pulled out some old Bates bedspreads from an upstairs closet; nevertheless, wrapped we were and enjoying the end of the day.

Conditions in the south and west-facing gardens continue to deteriorate.  It’s becoming too cold at night for the moonflowers to bloom.  The changing light and temperatures confuse the large, twined flowers.  Next summer, I’ll plant them a little earlier so they’ll flower on a hot August night.  They did have a subtle, sublime fragrance which I imagine would only be enhanced by the heat.

The morning glories growing off the trellis in the gladiolus patch are no longer profusely blooming, but each day some still flower and I put off the sad chore of dismantling the strings they’ve climbed along.

Indeed, there is a decline along the south and west-facings gardens here.

I don’t think I wrote much about pole beans this summer and it was probably for the best.  I had a small, uninspired spot in the garden and a few packages of old bean seeds.  They were the type of bean seeds that seem like a good idea at the time and then never get planted.  This summer, I stuck three large tree limbs in the garden, teepee style, and planted those old seeds around them.  The foliage was beautiful, similar to the dense green of the morning glories and moonflowers, and I paid little attention to the sprouting beans.  They might have been good eating at one point, but no longer.  They’ve gone to seed now and are drying on the vine.  I’ve harvested a few of them, along with the scarlet runner bean seeds I’m planning to share with friends.


Handy and I are going to cook the maroon-colored cranberry beans when we have a few more of them.

I’m also saving some morning glory seeds, which are the tiny black ones.

If you follow the news, it seems there are few things worth saving anymore.  I see it especially when I go to my local library looking for a book that is more than 20 years old.  The shelves are packed with authors I’ve never read, pulp writers whose last names begin, appropriately, with “P” sounds.  I was fortunate to find an old copy of Arundel by Kenneth Roberts, shunned off to the side of the “P” pot; um, I mean shelf.  But I won’t get all Spengler today.  I’ll save my seeds, arrange them on my orderly checked tablecloth and create my own world of flowers next spring.

Roberts’ Arundel narrator writes in the prologue “the truth is I love the place; and if I seem to talk overmuch of it, it is because I would like those who read about it to see it as I saw it, and know the sweet smell of it and to love it as I do.”

Yes, for those reasons I write overmuch about the garden, so you might see it as I see it and love it as I do, even in its seasonal decline.

Handy says we’re having shepherd’s pie tonight made with some last ears of summer corn and newly dug potatoes.  These are our indulgences in this season of decline.

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