Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Autumn or Planting

     Let's say that you have a little place among the meadows and forests, your cabin, bungalow, weekend place or whatever you call it; and around it you have a plot of land that you can call your own; or let's say that you don't have anything of that sort yet, but that you'd like to. In that case you should know that these autumn days are not the time in which the gentleman farmer stores things for hibernation, but it is quite the opposite. This is the time when the planter's blood is boiling, and only now does he begin to stick all sorts of bushes, saplings, trees, stems and bulbs into his staked-out plot. Spring is the time for flowers, while autumn is the season when the gardener deals with the pith of the matter and plants the future bushy crowns by way of digging holes in the ground and placing little bits of roots which one day will be a lush shrub or a hundred year-old tree; then he shovels the earth back on, tamps it down with his foot, and gives it a decent soaking. Then it becomes nature's turn to show what it can do.

    Yes, a currant here in the shadow of the wall, and a dark lilac over there; those lilacs always seem to go near pumps in the country. That'll be a whole row of lilacs, and it is impermissible to have their blue and purple clusters and not have the golden rain of broom and forsythia. Syringa, Laburnum, don't those names already sound like the peal of morning and evening bells? And you have to plant a sweet mock-orange over here for its sent on spring evenings, and the afternoon sun will sparkle off the white flowers of the Deutzia or the Spiraea; and nothing is more beautiful during a spring shower than the pink calyces of the Weigela, ardently and richly burning in the thick red foliage. Yes, we've got to have all of this, and maybe a Rosa rugosa and a vermillion flowering quince, and heather, yes, for what would life be without heather? That'll do for starters...

     But no, there's more than spring, after all; don't you want to have your beauty in summer and autumn as well? Just keep digging your holes, O gardener, you have to put a cotoneaster here and a barberry with its little red globules; here a little poison ivy will glow wonderfully in the autumn twilight, and a Tatar maple will look like the burning bush over here. Now we're getting somewhere; just dig on, gardener, to make sure there will be at least a little color for the winter, and make holes for the golden and coral-colored stalks of bunchberry, for the green stems of the Japanese yellow rose, and here, by the brook, for the lavender and golden stems of the willows. And you cannot do any more; the year is short and there are only four seasons in it.

     Wait, what's that weak little twig? Well, it's Prunus sachaliensis, a cherry from Sakhalin; and you had better find a big place for it, for this little twig will be a shrub thirty meters tall. And this tender little stalk, that's a Hisakura cherry, which will grow so big that you'd think you could sail along the sky on the rose-colored clouds of its blossoms, and this one over here will be a bird cherry as tall as a dome, a cherry from your childhood garden.

     And that's everything, isn't it? Well, praise be that the plot of land is now planted. The forests loom around dark and deep, the trunks of the white ash wave in the high distance, the golden crowns of the oaks are heavy and dense as granite in the autumn sun; but the gardener planting his saplings does not notice them at all; he looks at his staked-out plot, where a few thin sticks straggle up gauntly through the grass, and whispers to himself in profound and almost blessed satisfaction:

     "Well, it's not so empty here any more!"



[I love fall, or its nearest equivalent here. Skipped ahead thirty pages and am now re-situated chronologically. We'll see where this goes.]

No comments: