The passage of seasons becomes noticeable in August—always. As the days shorten to fall, I see a different quality, a softness, to the light, and perceive the harbingers of the new season. I found a dry sycamore leaf in the garage last week, an early indicator of the changes that occur each passing minute to the trees, to the plants, and to me, as time marches inexorably on.
The tomato plants are droopy and the leaves are turning yellow—their sagging foliage reminiscent of the wrinkles on my aging skin. They are here but for a short summer’s season—and they carry life, all the life needed within their tiny seeds to reproduce another year, to reemerge as seedlings which will again generate the vine-ripened tomatoes that bring me gustatory delight. Seeds, tiny miracles in an outer shell. The whole garden looks worn and raggedy while hiding the remarkable cycle of life-death-birth-renewal taking place.
The tomato plants will probably produce into October, however, and we’ll reap their goodness until the last possible day. The serrano chile pepper plants haven’t given us the bounty we have come to expect. I don’t know the answer—the plants didn’t seem to grow well from the start, but they are healthy enough, albeit sparse. The crop is medium for the size of the plants but the peppers are only slightly warm, not the chiles picantes we expect. I read that it is a good idea to stress the plants, that by lowering the number of watering days and providing less water the chiles will become hotter (because the heat comes from the natural compounds of the plant’s growth) but it doesn’t seem to be working. Next year, next year….
While I contemplate the corn we are going to use for seed-stock next spring, and await our final corn crop, I observe two different life stages. The rustling leaves on the upright stalks of the drying seed cobs reside next to the still-short verdant plants of our later crop. Ages juxtaposed…it’s a snapshot of life cycles.