Letter from Publisher
I’m pausing to take it all in. Before sitting down to write you this month, I took a quick tour of the yard, which is transitioning to fall. I’d say it’s been an unusual weather year, yet each year now is even more out of the norm. In mid-October, we’re still harvesting tomatoes, peppers and greens, and two melons remain on the vine, as do straggling cucumbers. But signs of mid-autumn also surrounded me. It’s been a banner year for acorns and tree nuts, and the squirrels and chipmunks have had their fill, leaving thousands of unclaimed treasures scattered about. Rather than raking them away, I’m leaving the nuts in place, where they’ll become a welcome food source for the critters come February.
No matter if the winter is harsh or mild, the bugs, bees, birds and other creatures that share our yards need winter food, water sources and protection. There are a few simple things we can do to build and maintain winter habitat for them. Did you know, for example, that bumblebee and other native bee queens reside underground in winter (they do not live in hives like European honeybees)? By letting leaves and fallen twigs stay in our garden spaces rather than raking or blowing them away, we can easily create hiding places for the beneficial insects and non-migrating pollinators that call our area home. Fallen leaves are also a great source of free mulch to protect garden plants from harsh winter winds and dryness, and they’ll serve as organic fertilizer next year, too.
This fall, try leaving perennial stalks in place with seed heads for the winter birds. If you need to trim, try to leave about 18 inches of stalk as a place for insects to hide. They’ll add interest to the garden space when the frost and snows come. Twig piles, extra logs and other remnants of summer are also beneficial to leave in place.
We’re in that in-between season, enjoying the days before the holiday dazzle starts in earnest. It’s a perfect time to take a reflective breath and express quiet gratitude for all of the gifts and experiences we’ve been given this year. Good or not-so-pleasant, each moment weaves into our life’s tapestry and gives us an experience to be thankful for.
Rather than seeing missteps and losses as roadblocks, we can gain a different perspective when we focus on the new roads they send us to travel. It seems we can so much better appreciate joy in our lives if we have experienced sadness, as well. And we can look much more to the spring if we remember the details in the autumn decline and go with the flow.
Wishing you a colorful autumn and a Happy Thanksgiving!