Having more or less skipped spring this year, the weather decided to go for a double and skip autumn as well. This it accomplished by delivering the hottest September on record—on a par with a normal July—and then plunging straight into winter.
There are actually two poems from recent New Yorkers that I want to share, but for the moment I’ll stick to the more recent and most seasonally apt one. If a dozen other garden bloggers already posted this, my apologies for being out of touch. (I’m still getting online only intermittently–more intermittently than I’d realized; I can’t believe it’s a month since I’ve posted! Well, the garden season here has ended so precipitously that I should have more time soon.)
I’m always curious, when I post a poem, whether readers like it or not, and why, so please feel free to post a comment.
by Lia Purpura
The New Yorker October 5, 2009
was a falling off,
for once I saw
in its stillness
still be turned from,
it was not
its hold drew me,
was a shiny switchplate
in the otherwise dark,
rash, ongoing green,
a green so hungry
for light and air that
part gave up,
chose to leave,
and by choosing
That first yellow leaf–usually a whole cluster–usually appears here sometime in mid-August, irrespective of the weather. So it was this year, even though we had a September as hot as most Julys. Someone told me that the trees react not to weather but to the length of days. That would explain why now, after two weeks of winter weather, the trees still hang onto their leaves, tenacious and suspicious.
Well, the blogging pause lasted longer than expected, even by me. I posted my intention to go dark at the end of June, and here it is mid-August. It’s hardly the same garden. In fact, it’s hardly the same as it was two weeks ago, when I left for my second trip to Toronto this summer. At that point, most of this plot was bare dirt.
I keep planning to write a post about yard work, of which there has been plenty, but the weather conspires against me. It’ll warm up nicely, I’ll take a deep breath and relax; well, winter’s over at last, I’ll be able to get out into the garden soon… And two days later, wham, six to twelve inches of snow. Even when the temperatures rise, it takes days for all that to melt.
(One area in northern Montana got four feet of snow sometime in May. It’s not city gardeners who are really suffering; it’s ranchers, who have been losing sheep and cattle by the hundreds. Early spring is lambing and calving time, not a good time for blizzards.)
Here’s the scenario: You’ve been hearing the sound of raindrops on the roof for hours, when it suddenly stops.
Here’s the question: How should you interpret this phenomenon?
Here are the options: It’s possible (taking a broad view) that you have just been transported to Mars, where it doesn’t rain. It’s also possible, if unlikely, that you have gone suddenly deaf.
Leaving aside these somewhat farfetched possibilities, you might conclude that it has stopped raining. Seeing as how it’s June in the Northern Hemisphere, this would be the most obvious conclusion—and the correct one, except that there’s a hidden assumption underlying that statement: “It’s stopped raining” generally implies “It’s stopped precipitating.” And while the former statement is currently true, the latter is false.
In other words, my good friends, it has started snowing.