The first frost left me feeling unexpectedly forlorn. This is Minnesota after all, and I've spent my whole life in the Midwest. The change in seasons is not a surprise.
And yet, the end of this particular growing season was hard. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to the ever-flowering banana pepper plants or the mums hanging in their baskets or the marigolds in their pots on the back deck.
Regardless of my readiness, the first snow fell and the plants froze, and it was time to say farewell to what we had growing in the garden and on the porch.
On a dreary, rainy Saturday, Justin and I emptied out all the potted plants, separating the soil back into the garden and the plant matter into the pile of yard waste. We pulled the tomato cages out of the ground and tore down the remaining squash vines. Much was composted. Several plants (and even two small trees) were moved indoors. We filled in the garden holes that Finn, our dog, dug on hot summer days when he wanted some cool earth against his belly.
Has it really been six months since the garden began? That half-year felt like a beautiful inhale. Nourishing. A time to absorb all the oxygen-rich possibility. A multitude of dinners with friends on the porch. Justin perfecting his grilled salmon. So many post-work evenings of tortilla chips with hummus.
Even dear Finn whimpered while we prepared the garden and yard for hibernation. I suppose he will miss having as much time outside to get acquainted with his new backyard friends through the fence. Perhaps he is also sad that the sun now goes to bed so early and he has less time to play refusal-to-fetch.
If the growing season was our collective inhale, then we are now headed into the great Minnesota exhale. The cold months. The time in which the soil takes a long nap and the furry creatures hibernate.
Last January when my mom, Pam, and I traveled to Kolkata, India, for Josh & Sweta's wedding, there was a refrain we heard throughout the four days. "Be sure to take rest," the gracious aunties and uncles would say. "Have you taken enough rest today?" the thoughtful cousins would ask. In the midst of all the excitement and ceremonies, there was the reminder that rest, too, was important.
So now we all get to exhale together. We rest. We enjoy the beauty of this frozen season and its uniquely special offerings. We give our yards and dirt and schedules breathing space, and we remember that rest is a good and necessary component of life.
This year Justin and I are trying something new. We're saving some seeds from each of our garden crops. Maybe it will work and another generation of garden will spring forth from this year's harvest. Or maybe it will at least be a small way to hold onto the nostalgia of our first garden in our first home.
"We better be sure to save the seeds of one of our squash," Justin said over breakfast one morning. "Just think, in 20 years we could still be eating the seeds from that same line of squash."
"Good idea," I agreed. "That sounds delicious."