Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I know it’s mid-September, but I’m still planting seeds—as in outside, in the ground, 60-70 days until maturity kind of seeds.

Call me an optimist, but I don’t consider this experiment an exercise in futility—I’m fully expecting some incredible November sunflowers—bold, gorgeous flowers that might even play a starring role as a bouquet on my Thanksgiving dinner table.

My unorthodox gardening habits took root a little over a year ago when I realized it was early August, and I still hadn’t planted any sunflowers due to the fact that I’d been traveling all summer and hadn’t been home to tend them. A few days after my return, I tore open a seed packet printed with verbiage which clearly suggested that I’d missed the sowing window by at least three months. Since the packet was also stamped with a disclaimer that the contents were intended for the 2007 planting season, I figured I had nothing to lose and went ahead and planted them.

I was rewarded with big, June sunflowers in the heart of October—an experience that cast some serious doubt on the calendar’s jurisdiction over growth and beauty and life.

This year I decided to push the seed envelope even further past recommendations, partly because I have leftover seeds and the last of this year’s flowers are fading in the yard, and also because I just want to see if I can.
So I planted some seeds the last day or so of August. All but two succumbed to the whims of a vicious predator whose oft-seen MO involves severing the thin little stems of sunflower seedlings. Dismayed but determined, I started more seeds just a couple days ago.

Why? Because this year, more than ever, I need to believe that vitality, strength, and beauty can survive into deep fall. I need to know that blossoms aren’t the sole domain of spring, and that just because the calendar says something isn’t likely doesn’t mean that it is so.

I need that reminder, and I need it on my Thanksgiving table because two days after that I’m celebrating a biggish sort of birthday, the one that says summer’s over with the certainty of a Jerry Lewis Telethon. I need some bright, yellow confirmation that life unfolds in all seasons and that surprises can bloom any time.

Grow, little fall seedlings…grow tall, and strong and healthy. Show us how it’s done.

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