For the first time this year the confetti of fallen leaves crackled underfoot as I walked down the path to the garden, their excited crunch announcing the arrival of fall.
The breast high weeds that had encroached into the pathway have begun to retreat. Spring brought their colors and smiles, summer brought their thorns and turned them shades of brown and tan and now they wilt and blacken as they patiently wait for the rains and microbes to dissolve them back into the soil.
The black fingertips of the giant fig tree’s under branches reach down to scratch my head as I pass beneath, demanding that I take notice and acknowledge.
Morning is my favorite time to visit the garden and the pathway is welcoming. The dampness from the dew soaks the tips of my boots as I walk and the stillness allows the vegetation to waken slowly.
A glimpse of a quick blackbird shooting between cover briefly draws my attention.
The path that leads to my garden is nearly 300 meters long and begins with a section that winds downhill, along an ancient cobblestone road which is now mostly covered by forest duff. The cobblestones have loosened over time and the material between them has been washed and blown and swept away by the seasons. Their looseness makes each step a challenge and full attention must be given to every stride.
At the bottom of the hill the path flattens and turns a sharp left to a section where a mélange of very tall trees provide cover from above and an open view to the trunks and lower understory. The forest floor is completed covered with low, ivy like vegetation and the upper canopy filters out direct sunlight. The low light limits the growth of shrubs and other brambles but is perfect for the ivy. As I pass I wonder at the history beneath. What stories what secrets what treasures the ivy guards?
Continuing, the pathway exits the umbrella of trees and the right edge is marked by sporadic remnants of a low stonewall, only partially visible.
After twenty or so paces the path makes a gradual left turn where tall dark sentries form a gauntlet. Ferocious no more the sentries look withered and tired.
As I continue along this section a neighbor’s garden opens up to the right. The soil was turned last spring but nothing was planted. The native weeds were laying in wait and did their best to reclaim the land.
From here the path runs straight, except for a few wiggles, all the way to my plot.
A vegetative tunnel has been formed over time and with each pass I pinch the end of a few escaping stems to keep it at bay.
A very large Oak looms ahead. Through World War I, World War II, the Crusades, the Revolution and Napoleon she has watched and listened.
Her fallen spawn crunch under my feet as I stroll beneath.
The wild black berries were a delicious treat in the spring and summer but the rest of the year the aggressively growing branches with their vampire like thorns reach out and grab at anyone who passes. The pain of a few jabs and scratches is a small price to pay for these delicious gifts.
To my left, I pass a cemetery of ramshackle headstones marking the resting places of spent tomato plants of several seasons past.
As I near the end of the pathway, towering grass plants mark the entrance to my garden and they wave like banners tickled by the wakening breeze.
My garden is at the very end of the path and when I finally reach my destination I feel at home and ready to play. The plants seem to be happy to see me again too.
Compost pile to turn with it’s delicious scent to release, small weeds to fight back in a forever war, a thick blanket of mulch to spread to keep my babies warm.