The tender leaves of basil and nasturtiums and other annuals went limp in the cold. The day before I collected most of the basil leaves for a last batch of pesto. The first frost marks the end of the summer garden season. I started the garden clean-up, pulling the eggplant, pepper and bean plants and adding them to the compost pile. There is always some weariness by the end of the growing season, after all the planting and weeding, insect patrols, and canning and freezing. So, it is with some relief that the garden rows are laid bare and made ready for spring planting. Still, I have my list of fall garden chores: plant spinach and cilantro and protect with row cover, plant the tulip bulbs, ready the perennial beds for winter.
Saturday warmed slowly into the low 50s. With a light breeze and blue sky it was a beautiful fall day, if you bundled against the slight chill. We spent a few hours with friends walking trails on the Isinglass River Conservation Reserve in Strafford. Fallen leaves crunched under our feet as walked the woodland paths. Two cold-hardy garter snakes soaked up the afternoon sun on the trails until we disturbed their slumber.
We discovered the spidery yellow flowers of the witchhazel, another sign that autumn is well underway. This late bloomer flowers after the leaves have turned brown or fallen from this native woodland shrub.
We watched a robin feast on fruits in a shrub thicket and listened to the soft twitters of chickadees and kinglets gathering seeds and insects in the treetops. The sounds carried easily through the clear fall air. It is a beautiful time out there in the woods after the first fall frost.