Sunday, November 21, 2010

November is the Month of Greening

In many respects November in our little corner of the cosmos behaves as a proper fall/winter month should. Days get shorter, nights get longer, cold winds and rain blow falling leaves through chill air.

But at the same time a whole other narrative unfolds. In a Mediterranean climate like ours there are really only two seasons: wet and dry. The dry season runs through what is traditionally known as spring, summer, and early fall: May through October. The wet season runs more or less from late fall to early spring: November through April.

When the first rains fall, announcing the shift from dry season to wet, the parched brown earth responds immediately with tiny shafts of new green growth pushing up through dead thatch. Out in the countryside dusty hillsides take on a pale greenish blush and gradually get covered with luminescent carpets of gaudy green.

In our backyard there are newly fallen leaves layering the ground and vigorous seedlings sprouting beside them.

Our backyard "meadow" changes -- with some help, consisting mainly of removing the dead debris -- from a stand of dried up Queen Anne's Lace, wild fennel, and mallow to a quasi-lawn: the only time of year we have what could remotely be called a lawn.

The winter garden surges: spinach, kale, lettuce, peas, broccoli, chard, leeks. The paths start filling up with lush volunteers: arugula, lettuce, kale, yard chard galore, along with the usual roster of weeds. Alongside the flourishing winter growth, the summer garden languishes as the plants turn limp and yellowed: tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, eggplants, basil.

I'm always reminded of the lines from Bob Dylan (It's Alright Ma): "He who is not busy being born, is busy dying."

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