Letting go of the old to reap a new fall bounty

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By Linda Mims

Come spring, cars will roll slowly down my street and past my home. I’m used to it now. People I don’t even know will honk their horns, roll up to me or my husband, and thank us for the bounty of beauty we provide them each spring and summer. We couldn’t do it without the encouragement and support of our fall community. For the past twenty falls, we’ve planted spring bulbs that flower and bloom from early spring into the summer. My community looks forward to our gardens.

Cooler weather, the end of daylight savings time, russet and gold leaves of fall used to signal that it was time to begin the colorful spring production. Our friends and neighbors would arrive to help us plant and prepare the garden beds for winter hibernation. It will be a little different this fall.

It began 20 years ago when we were younger. Even then, we thought we were too old to lie sprawled out or kneeling on the cold ground digging tulip holes. That first year, curious neighbors cruised by looking out of their side-eye, while trying not to appear nosey.

As they became more familiar with our practice and grew accustomed to the wooden boxes of newly arrived tulip bulbs, they’d comment. “Get them just right for my camera!” or “Are you going to put in some yellow this year? I love yellow!” We’d smile and say, sure, why don’t you bring over some yellow and help us?

What’s the old saying, if you build it, they’ll come? Sure enough, a few drifted over to help, and some came to critique. But even if not actively taking part, they’d still walk up, drive by, or shout out to tell us how happy it made them to see us in the yard that fall.

This year will be the first time in 20 years we’ve failed to over-plant. Over-planting is adding fresh bulbs to the existing plantings so that the spring production will be abundant, vibrant, and beautiful. We’re going to sit out this fall and see what happens when we just let things come back on their own. We’ve ordered a few alliums, irises and hyacinths, but that will be nothing like the 700 tulip bulbs we’ve ordered in the past.

Instead of worrying and wringing our hands, we’re saying que sera and moving on to new ideas that we hope will be just as fruitful as our gardens have been. This year my husband and I are doing a kind of hibernation to reconnect, think about what’s important to us, our family and friends, and plan other fall endeavors. Whatever we do will include walking and other exercises to replace our fall gardening.

As I write this, it’s a crisp fall day, and he is outside assembling a new pellet grill. What can I say? He loves gadgets. I’ve found two great brisket recipes that I want to try before it gets too cold. If these prove tasty to me and our finnicky grandson, Malcolm, then I’ll know that the rest of the family will like them.

Neighbors who used to help me in the yard passed away this year and close members of my family have gone too. It’s going to be a little lonely for some of us. So, beginning this fall, I’d like to gather everyone around our table at least every other weekend to tell stories, play games, and share news.

My newly widowed neighbors and family members could use some pleasant company this fall and we want to give them something to look forward to. There are new grandbabies and lots of nieces and nephews to taste these new dishes I plan to cook up. Maybe if we sow into our people this fall, the family and community will remain close and bloom bountifully this coming spring.

A retired teacher, Linda Mims writes from an open plan house where sunlight streams across her writing space as she monitors her husband’s trips to the fridge and counts cars that whiz by. Sometimes weeding her gardens brings focus and a fresh perspective. You can find her writing on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

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