Yes, it's still August ( just a few more days), but when you have a garden- you know before everyone else- that autumn is creeping nearby.
My first indication is the basil. I grow lots of it, many varieties. I cultivate basil because of it's intoxicating scent and the wonderful flavors. A lot of people, who aren't growers, really hate the scent of basil, and comment on that dislike when they brush up against it.
It's like cilantro, you either really love it or really hate it.
I'm not commenting about the tiny little bundles you get at your local supermarket chain, or the stuff in a glass jar that you get off the store shelf. I'm talking about the really green, leaves as large as your hand, spilling out all over the place, bees in an intoxicated state circling it's flowers- garden basil.
If you've never grown it, you must try at least once in your lifetime.
It's beautiful to behold, comes in various shades of green, yellow, purple, and has endless uses in the kitchen. Vinegars, oils, pestos, stuffings, salads, sorbets, italian food, lovely desserts.
The basil in my garden is still bright green and flourishing. I use so much of it that it doesn't really have the time to flower. (only the stray stalk hiding under the others.)
The signs that autumn is coming lies in the basil stalks. The once soft and juicy stems are becoming woody on bottom, and the leaves are not as fat and round as they were in the spring and early summer monthes.
Another cue to autumn is the lemon balm. Balm leaves are smaller now, and want to dry up so much faster. In spring, it has out- of- the box color, and big fat leaves. Lemon Balm has a great love affair with spring!
It is truly a heavenly site in spring, one of the first to break out of the winter ground. The bees around it look like they've been drinking wine! (they get that glazed-over look as they dip and sway!)
Slowly, slowly we are cutting back and harvesting much. The oregano is flowering, getting long and leggy. It's my next harvest.
The rooms in the house are filled with drying racks. Baskets are stacked everywhere with leaves in single layers. Bundles are hanging in any spare space. My husband keeps running into them, the apartment is so tiny!
He doesn't complain anymore about the large pantry I want in the new house, or my proposed herb shop with long tables! He knows that the herb shop is the only way he will get to walk around the house without getting a face full of dried herbs.
Yep, summer is almost over, I can feel it.
Louisiana has long, long hot days until November. Our growing season is forever, but I know that the change is here.
As I put my summer garden to bed, one plant at a time, I say prayers thanking God for the wonderful season I've had. The calm hush while standing in the picked over rows- awes me into silence. It happens every year, this quiet calm.
The ground that is revealed looks very naked and surprised to be open to the sky.
Standing in the sparse rows, stalks lying randomly at my feet, I am peaceful and happy that I was able to share their summer lives.
The winter that's coming will bring the quiet, solitary business of making herbal teas, salves, cough syrups, herbal jellies, tinctures, powders and lots of seasonings. I love making these products. When I stand in the kitchen making them, I hear the inner voices of all herbal healers that have come before me. They are with me in the room as I stir, mix, grind seeds and roots into powder. It is a serene time for me, a reflective quiet.
In my garden, I feel as though I am putting beloved children to bed for a long winter rest.