Preparing for Fall

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What is September? The ninth month of the year, with nine letters and a whole lot of mixed feelings. September is traditionally supposed to be a month of preparedness. 

Transitions come at us left and right as the month progresses. My favorite changes to prepare for are the outpouring flood of all things pumpkin spice, back-to-school supplies melting into Halloween decorations, and the ever-watchful eye on the skies as the weather begins to hint towards something different. There are also (in my opinion) less joyful shifts; my husband magically gets older, I begin to see less and less of my fellow gardeners, and there is an eerie silence that settles in the neighborhood during the weekdays. 

I have deduced through careful observation that the main catalyst for change seems to be the start of the school year. The big yellow bus drives down the street just before heading off to work, and the day is relatively quiet. Then, on my drive home, the parks are full of vehicles with children tumbling out half ready for practice. The whole area surrounding the fields is bursting with an alarming amount of energy. This scheduled rhythm differs from the consistent summer buzz I became accustomed to. 

It feels strange from the outside, not going back to school or having a similar significant change in schedules and behaviors. There is no dread with the ending of summer, no mourning of warm weather, and a weekly schedule sounds wonderfully monotonous. This time of reflection has left me feeling unprepared and unsettled. If I am not planning for school, a wedding, or a new house, then what am I doing?  

I have felt this somewhat unnatural gravitational pull toward “getting ready.” It is an overwhelming emotion I feel in every fiber of my being. Part of me believes that this is a human urge passed through generations, the need to prepare for the coming winter. The other part is pretty sure that I am just excited to decorate for our first fall in the house but have no idea where to start.

I know I am not alone. Several fellow gardeners have come in to prepare for their versions of fall. One, in particular, stood out to me.  

Gardener Betty came in the other day looking to replant a spot in front of her house. Upon further conversation and much questioning, I learned she hoped to upgrade the curbside appeal to sell her home. She had recently had the siding repainted, and was looking for something smaller to take the space. Betty was preparing. 

These plants were carefully vetted, and as the search continued, she revealed more and more details about the project. Betty is terminally ill and is thoughtfully preparing her house for her children. We selected a wonderfully red-leafed evergreen perennial that would stay a titch smaller with little care (this particular variety happened to be Euphorbia ‘Miner’s Merlot’ for all you questioning readers).  

We were both pleased. Not only will Betty enjoy this fall view, but I was able to use my new gardening knowledge to help her find the right plants to take home. While in an entirely different period of life and transition than myself, She brought to my attention our similarities. She reminded me that change is inevitable. We both have significant obstacles to face and struggles to endure. All we can do is plan to be prepared and let go of the rest. 

The question remains, what am I doing? The answer to the all elusive question is preparing. While my routine may no longer be the same as it was for all my years in school, nature has a way of keeping a flow and moving us on to the next thing. There is always more to be done, and it is not all going to get done according to plan. All we can hope for is a little time to get prepared. I encourage you to use this next month to adjust, transition, plan, and prepare. Garden Rebel Betty encourages you to add live life to your list. I know I certainly have.