Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Well. That was quick.

A faithful reader in the northwest USA gently berated yours truly for being so spotty about writing the blog lately. Duly chastened and slightly abashed, I disciplined myself to ponder pertinent Alaska gardening topics.  Just moments later I was done pondering and a sense of finality settled into my brain. We’re all done here.

fall 021

Of course I’m speaking of summer, and not of the mental state of Alaskans at large (though this might also be apt).  A few days ago some ominous-looking cloudy riff raff deposited dandruff on the lofty peaks to the east.  I suppose it must be snow but I’m not hiking up there to find out.  Curses!  The termination dust is here!

For those unfamiliar with the term, it has nothing to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger, nor unsightly accumulations of particles under your bed.  Opinions vary, and if I were one for research I would find out which is the most plausible (or on a good day, factual).  However, Camp A insists the term “termination dust” was coined by those souls who believed the first dusting of snow on the mountains signaled the end of an all too brief summer.  Camp B shrilly maintains that the reference actually comes from the practice of laying off (firing) seasonal workers at the end of the summer.

I’m with camp A.  Our summer is about ten days long.  OK, I’ll throw in that sunny day we had in May and make it eleven.  By the time my petunias, dahlias, and fuchsias are reaching their peak, it seems like a crime of nature that frost should take them.  (And yes, I had a banner year of growing sophisticated garden plants.  Have I mentioned I grew hot pink pelargoniums, too?)  So when the white stuff is sighted on yonder lofty peaks, a constriction of the airways is not uncommon in gardeners here.

Sadly, I have to announce I put my containers away for the year.  (Now, now, dry your eyes.)  It seemed only natural after mowing the lawn one final time last night.  There was perfectly good icy blue Lobelia growing in one particularly fine container.  Good (as opposed to ratty, rip it out posthaste) Lobelia in September is akin to a good hair day without using conditioner: good luck. 

This particular container was a study in texture, or at least, that’s what I told myself as I rammed different blue leaved plants into the dirt with little method and most likely a spot of madness this spring.  The lobelia was a surprise.  I don’t usually (OK, ever) use it as it’s been done to death in my city and can be fussy on sunny days with it’s watering requirements.  I picked it up at a nursery that was offering a free 6-pack for Mother’s Day.  What gardener can resist a pack of free plants?  Apparently, not I.  Heaven help me if they start offering some kind of weed for free.

fall 024

Anyone a fan of the children’s book “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown?  An homage in the spirit of the season, by the Last Frontier Gardener:

Goodnight grass Goodnight mower cutting the grass

Goodnight sunlight and the red afternoon

Goodnight grizzly bears

Goodnight lawn chairs

Goodnight outdoor sittin’ and hello mittens

Set back clocks and put on wool socks

Goodnight garden tool abuse and hello cranky, hungry moose

Goodnight fork and goodnight hoe

Goodnight nobody Goodnight grow

And hello to the cold wind whispering “snow”

Hello bright stars Goodnight warm air

Goodbye summer everywhere

No doubt Lord Byron looks down fondly on me now.  Or else he’s getting ready to hurl a lightening bolt.  I don’t often feel poetic so this is a rare treat for you all.  If I get any more complaints, gentle or otherwise, I may riff on “Back in Black” by AC/DC.  So there, you’ve been warned.  Bundle up, winter is coming.


Are you ready for the next season?  Or content and hoping it will never end?


biobabbler said...

Wow, a friend of mine has been up north of the Arctic circle, staying with another friend, and she used termination dust in her facebook post, and now, THANKS to you, I know what it means and 2 possible derivations! =) Thanks!

I've, once again, NOT successfully gotten my fall/winter/spring crops planted, and, per River Mud blog, really should be planting cover crops. And all last week I was 2000 miles away.


Basically, so far I'm in denial.

But, glad we're unlikely to see 100 dF again, any time soon.

Happy fall!!

College Gardener said...

O dear... This makes me very thankful that we have a few more warm days.

Sue@G.L. Allotments said...

Our summer has just revived itself with sun and higher temperatures that we have had during most of summer.

Marguerite said...

So so quick. I may have used some four letter words this morning when I walked out on the porch and saw frost. Goodnight grizzly bears, LOL. Well that's one benefit to winter!

Christine B. said...

@biobabblerI am glad to help explain any daft Alaskan-isms to the outside world. In exchange, you will kindly explain facebook, which I have never been able to fathom....


Christine B. said...

@College GardenerI would be thankful for warm days, too, and someday I hope to experience one. In Alaska.


Christine B. said...

@Sue@G.L. AllotmentsSo you're saying there's hope for us? No, that can't be what you're saying. It's just not possible. (insert sniff or whimper or groan here)


Birds, Bees, Berries, and Blooms said...

I love the poem! Reminds me of here. I wasn't too worried that we hadn't heard from you. I understand the concept of enjoy it while you can. Still it is good to have you back.

Christine B. said...

@MargueritePerhaps the only benefit. I may be more generous about the season of winter when spring is on the horizon. 'Til then: harrumph!


Christine B. said...

@Birds, Bees, Berries, and BloomsThanks for the return greeting! I have read that book so many times, it should be committed to memory by now!


Elephant's Eye said...

and those barking dogs which were driving you insane? We have a new neighbour who has had a steady procession - about your dog ...

Lona said...

Terminator Dust is a new saying that I have never heard before.If it means anything dealing with winter coming I do not want to know. LOL! A fitting reference though. Your growing season is so short. I hate to even think about snow. Glad to see your new posting Christine.

Grace said...

Fall is a four-letter word, you know. I'm sorry that the termination dust is imminent. Nice photo of the golden tree!

Christine B. said...

@Elephant's EyeNo, no. Everyday is a big "hello" for them. They wrap up by 11pm usually. Perhaps an errant bear would take care of things for me.

Do you still have lions in your area? Maybe one could fix the dog situation to your satisfaction....


Christine B. said...

@LonaHi, Lona! Our snow could be called terminator dust. It does not, however, have an Austrian accent. Really most unfortunate.


Christine B. said...

@GraceWell, I suppose I'll just have to use the word autumn then. The prudish LFG blog writer wouldn't want to offend any readers by using four-letter words!

Wishing I was gardening in Portland about now....

CB said...

At least the bears are getting ready to take a snooze. Too bad the flowers get the raw deal though. I am like you a bit, the containers headed in already and the fireplace was lit for the first time. But now we are headed warmer again with tomorrow at 68°.


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