For several weeks now, I’ve heard the calls of Canada Geese overhead. Migrating geese sound confident in their purpose and in agreement about their destination; their numbers and chorus a sure sign that we need to wrap up the yard for winter, hurry to what’s salvageable on our list of summer projects, and ready the greenhouse – and our lives – for winter.
For those of you who have checked in on 2nd Tuesday this year, you’ll perhaps remember that in May instead of taking the greenhouse down and storing it under the deck until fall (a ritual we’ve completed annually for thirteen years), we decided that we’d only remove the greenhouse covering and the doors and their framework. Once uncovered and with the addition of a few overhead slats, we stained the frame and began to use the space as an open-air garden house. The space became, because of its position, a place in which to wallow in the early morning sunshine of summer and – in those moments – forget about the news, the spread of the virus, and the uncertainty of the outside world.
By the end of July, with temperatures near one hundred for several weeks, the plants in and around the reimagined greenhouse flourished in the sheltering shade of overhead trees. Vines climbed up and over the latticework. The fragrance of roses and the spice of carnations drifted through the evening air of the space. Hummingbirds vied for the ownership of a feeder we added. A wild rabbit regularly visited the dense foliage of the little retreat. A one-legged Steller’s Jay that adopted us as surrogate parents in June hung out near the space and scolded us if we’d forget to put walnut pieces on a nearby feeder.
Though the nights have noticeably chilled, there has been a good deal of sunshine for several days now – enough that while sitting on the bench in the structure, eyes shut, face to the sky, it’s difficult to realize that the summer is over. Having been able for several months to have our family stop by for outdoor visits, there is a particular challenge in letting go and giving in to the proclamation of the migrating geese.
We’re taking the vines off the framework tomorrow, moving the plants out of the way, and beginning the process of turning the reimagined space back into a greenhouse. We’ll reinstall the doors, assemble some shelves, hook up a heater, and hang a thermometer on one of the walls; transform the space in preparation for the upcoming winter – acting as if – despite what we hear on the news – that we have some degree of control.
I envy the geese this year. They appear to know where they are headed.