Pumpkins & Sunflowers

From the chipper, perky meteorologist on the morning show to the guy walking to work in sandals and shorts, there are a lot of people who are betting against fall. They bemoan every evening in which the temperature dares to dip into the upper 60s and they look in scorn at you when you say such blasphemous things as, “It looks as though fall is coming early, this year.”

I often grumble, gurgling steamy bubbles into my morning coffee, that there is such a very clear and bold movement of heat bias in the media, these days. On the hottest, haziest, and absolutely most miserable day of summer, you rarely hear complaints from news anchors or weather folks, only “heat advisories”. But, let there be a cool front coming through or the threat of a frost, and there are frowns, sighs, and heads moving from side-to-side in disbelief and disapproval.

Like it or not, the Great Lakes region is a temperate climate, so no amount of protesting, scorn, or even sarcasm will prevent the inevitable changing of the guard that comes about every three months. Personally, I love the changes because they keep me on my toes and – just as I find myself never wanting to see another tomato for the rest of my life at the end of tomato season – I often find myself sick of heat waves, street festivals, and tourists by the end of summer, no matter how much I enjoyed them at the beginning. To me, griping about the end of summer is no different than a child throwing a tantrum at bedtime: it’s almost time for autumn, kids, so start putting your summer toys away and stop your whining!

We had a cool front come through for about three days, recently. And – much to the delight of the shamelessly perky weather girl – it was quickly chased out of town by a very steamy southern wind which drove our temperatures back into the 90s, bringing back memories of my boyhood in the Deep South. Fine. It’s still August; I can deal with this for another couple of weeks, I suppose! But I don’t want to hear any whining in late September, people!

The garden, having gotten a good, early start for this region back in early May, is still winding down in spite of the very summery conditions. Almost all of the sugar pie pumpkins have been harvested as the vines have completely retreated and let go of the ripened pumpkins. I still have one pumpkin that’s holding out on ripening. I hope it hurries itself up.

I can appreciate the sugar pie’s retreat if for no other reason than it helps me to navigate through the garden more easily to attend to the now emerging stars of our little pumpkin kingdom: the Jarrahdales!

Jarrahdale Pumpkins 1

Here you can see what is shaping up to be our most perfect specimen. You can tell it’s nearing ripeness, because the green skin is giving way to grayish blue, but considering that the vine is still very much green and the skin is not completely hardened, I know this one’s still holding out for more growth.

Jarrahdale Pumpkins 2

I had to harvest the one in this picture, however, because it had ripened fully and also had a few minor injuries due to the vines’ carelessness. I’ll be carving it up, soon, because I worry that it won’t store well with the imperfections. I’ll hopefully be making a post about the uniqueness of their taste, but you can already see the appealing color of this variety.

Adding weight to my argument that fall’s around the corner, the beans continue to produce more pods of rattling beans and the Autumn Beauty sunflowers are in full bloom – swaying in the breeze and attracting goldfinches. This variety certainly provided a mixed bag of colors. While the flowers themselves are a little smaller than I would’ve liked, each plant produces several blossoms. I do prefer this look over the big-as-a-house variety that produces one, insanely huge blossom on a stalk that resembles a young tree! Had I grown sunflowers intending to gather their seeds and eat them, I probably would’ve gone for the latter variety, but I really only planted them for their cheery presence.

Autumn Beauty Sunflowers 1Autumn Beauty Sunflowers 3

And cheer me they have – casting a summery glow against a sky that’s ever-changing. I do appreciate their invitation to stop there in the garden, for a moment (ignoring the need to slap mosquitoes), and gaze heavenward. Seeing the clouds lazily chase one another, hearing the busy birdsongs, noting the sky’s gradual change from a milky, summery blue to a sharp, autumnal azure…

Autumn Beauty Sunflowers 2

Aside from the fresh food and the learning experiences, this is why I garden. Memories of moments just like these are what keep me warm in winter and insure I can rest comfortably, feeling blessed rather than deprived by winter’s dark mood changes.

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~ by Jason on August 31, 2010.

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