As always, the folks over at Gardening Gone Wild have given us much food for thought this month. This month the theme for the photo contest “Picture This” is “The End of the Line.” In the post presenting the subject to us, the judge suggested we play with the connotations of the phrase.
I was immediately attracted to the idea of the circular line, and the Wheel of the Year that represents turning seasons. I have an armillary sun dial that lives in the vegetable garden. It’s ostensible function is to allow me not to lose track of time and so wind up covered in mud when I should be ready to give a massage. It would work better if I would look at it.
But it has other problems. It doesn’t always point north any more, so it is pretty inaccurate. Unfortunately, once introduced to the garden the item turned out to have a determination to throw itself to the ground, pedestal and all, at the slightest encounter with wheelbarrows, hose coils or shovel handles. The ice storm a few years ago didn’t do it any favors either; the top has become detached from the pedestal. Last summer some paper wasps made their nest in the pedestal, which kept the brassica crops worm free for an extra month, but made weeding in that part of the garden sort of like being on the border of a very touchy country.
I determined to use the sundial in my photograph somehow, to symbolize how even as we reach the end of this growing season, at the same instant we begin the next one. Jim’s and my vegetable garden epitomizes that whole concept. We start planting the next year’s crops before this year’s are quite done. Here’s a shot that shows that the garlic is coming up and the cold frames are in use even as the garden has been mostly put to bed for the winter. (Note the sundial placement. If you photograph things a lot, you probably can believe exactly how difficult getting that darned thing in the right place for different shots was.)
This particular year has been an amazing one for overlapping seasons. The row of chard that garnered me the bathtub full I featured on my Abundant Harvest photo last month is still producing in spite of the hard freeze we had a couple of weeks ago and several frosty mornings since then. It has started sprouting from the leaf nodes where we picked it all summer. It doesn’t know it is at the end of the line, a hard freeze will arrive any day now.
I don’t have just one subject for the Gardening Gone Wild photo contests, I promise, no matter how much it is starting to look like that. But Swiss chard has to be one of my favorite vegetables. Just look at all the colors — you just know that plant has got to be packed with various beta carotenes and phytonutrients. It is quite versatile too, at home in a soup or salad, or just being braised gently in olive oil with garlic. It has to be the dieter’s best friend, too, seeing as how it is the direct antithesis of empty calories. Coming in at a tiny six calories per cup, when grown in nutrient rich soils it is packed with Vitamin A, calcium, and potassium, just to name a few of the dietary necessities it contains.
Last night we had a tardy Equinox bonfire. We were going to do that while Jesse was here, but he hardly spent any time with us, so we wound up not lighting it. Last night we touched the pile off. It needed to be done, we wanted to burn the bean and tomato vines hat were in it to make sure the fungi and the bean mosaic virus that are living in them are stopped permanently. I saw a photo op there, and tried to capture the end of season bonfire with the end of season vegetable garden in the background.
I realized when I took this set of shots that the perspective highlights the fire too much in relation to the vegetable garden. Also the light was way too dim for it all to really turn out. Since Jim was leaving on a trip to visit one of his Navy buddies and we were getting up at zero dark thirty this morning, I thought it would be a good idea to get up early and try getting photos as the sun was coming up. The result follows. Check out that garlic coming up in the foreground.
Once again, the light was too complex for a great picture. That bright dawn sky had some lovely cloud formations in it, but when I got the exposure right to show that, the garden looked like the Black Hole of Calcutta. I got some great shots of my chard, though.
As I was lying on my belly trying to capture the chard and the sundial at the same time, I heard the Canada geese that sleep on Horseshoe Pond wake up and take flight. There were two skeins of them, and the first one flew by as I swung my camera up and got off a shot. Over-exposed.
The second group winged by and in that magical moment as I clicked the shutter I knew I had “The Shot” at long last.
And that, my dearest ones, is my entry into the contest. It seems to breathe “The End of the Line” to me, with the trees half bare, all the lines of the paths and raised beds, the beds tucked in for the winter, the last line of chard, the line of geese heading South for the winter. It even has the sundial in it.
Blessed be, and may the turn of the year find you healthy, and blessed with prosperity and joy.