Nothing like a sudden autumnal chill to remind you how much there is left to do in the garden before winter.
I had a lot left to do.
The back, shade garden needed major plant trimming, the fence posts needed resetting and the deer netting had to be replaced. The posts holding up the compost fencing were falling every which way. The top of the pear tree would allow an enterprising squirrel access to the screened-porch roof. A scotch broom in the grass garden had to be pulled up, providing I got something to put in its place, which I hadn‘t done.
I looked at what I had to do and took my husband as far as I could from the house Saturday.
We went to central New Jersey, the town of Allentown, which has a lot of preserved sod farms on which American golden plover and a variety of sandpipers that prefer uplands to beaches had been reported.
When we were on vacation in Maryland the other week we had heard of sightings on a sod farm in the town where we stayed and met a couple there who said this is the time of year to seek out these plovers and “peeps” on sod farms as they head south. The couple, with spotting scopes, not only gave us fine views of the unfamiliar birds but identified them for us.
So, eager to improve our sod farm birding, on Saturday we headed south and at our first stop we found three killdeer - a more common land plover - and seven of its cousins, the American goldens.
We spent the rest of the day birding and going to bookstores and enjoyed ourselves. It was nice to have a change of scene.
Now it’s Sunday. I sit on my screened porch, watching the birds at the feeder, thinking of those autumn chores. I look at the joe-pyes, bent over, flowers spent. The sorry scotch broom. The compost pile. I get depressed.
As my neighbors ride their bikes with their kids or mow their lawns, I feel overwhelmed, unable to keep up with the little I do. MH doesn’t have this problem - despite the many things he is supposed to be doing in the yard his attitude is more relaxed, perhaps because he works at home and has more opportunity to do it when he feels like it than I.
I sit a long time. But after finally going in for coffee and breakfast I get dressed and get at it.
Pulling out netting is much easier than trying to carefully work around it. Once it was off and the posts pulled out, I could easily cut back the yews, joe-pyes and dead matter on the other plants, put compost down, weed and even help out MH by getting rid of the mildew on side of the house behind the plants.
It was nice being able to move freely and do away with over 15 years of experiments in putting up netting to hinder the deer. It was calming to cut back, neaten, rearrange, even dig up a plant - a bleeding heart - I realized would sit very well where the scotch broom sat and put it in the ground, pruning the broom and putting it in another area to see if it would thrive again.
It was even good putting the deer netting back. It may be a pain but it protects my plants.
I pruned the pear tree but the compost pile will have to await another day. So will all the other pre-winter chores. I may not be able to keep up but I can at least pace myself.
It is therapeutic to tackle problems rather than run from them and change the scenery for the better.