In our little pocket of New England, summer isn’t even close to over before nurseries and supermarkets roll out their displays of fall Chrysanthemums. Mid-August, we stop short and utter a “You have got to be kidding me,” exclamation upon discovering Halloween candy on store shelves while we’re still savoring the last precious weeks at the beach and sailing. I mean, kids haven’t even returned to school yet. Geesh.
Until October arrives, I do my best to ignore these displays, because I know they're just a herald for winter, and, because late in life I’ve discovered the miracle of fertilizer for my potted plants. This means when the rusts, crimsons, golds and corn-stalk decorations crowd the sidewalks in front of the grocery stores, the impatience and coleus I planted with such hope in May still mound in their patio pots, tall and striking in all their warm-weather glory.
What’s a summer flower lover like me to do? Each September I wonder if this is the year I’ll tear out the pinks and whites and plant the colors of fall. But I can’t. It's too much of a betrayal. My plants are perfectly healthy in spite of the acorn bombs dropping from the oak tree above them. So, even later, deep into calendar fall, I come home from work each afternoon and water them, finding it impossible to destroy that which I nurtured, just because the seasonal pallet has changed. Instead, I scurry about with a broom, sweeping up acorns and the early ash leaves covering the patio, while celebrating the scrappy Black-eyed-Susans and the zinnias that remain vibrant in my garden.
Somewhere mid to late October, the first frost will kill my babies. About that time, I’ll ponder chrysanthemums for a Thanksgiving display, only to discover stores filled with Christmas decorations.