September 17th and we got a touch – just a touch – of frost. The high southeast corner of the roof on the farmstand was garnished with a whitish wedge at sunrise and the low spot that I push my wheelbarrow into and out of on the way to the barn for chores sported tracks and footprints in the white after my passage. The squash plants that have volunteered in the pasture are still pushing palm-up toward the sun, the tomatoes are still cranking blossoms for fruit that won’t make it to red and the grass is still growing after the cows have been moved off to other parts of the pasture. True to calendar, life is still in late summer mode.
But the pigweed knows that the summer is over. Even the tiniest plants, plants that in June would have been thrusting up and growing leaves, are now putting on seeds, one, two or maybe, ten. The short daylight hours are signaling the plants to hustle if they want to keep their genes in the pool. They need get their seeds ripened and dropped into the soil in time for winter’s sleep or they have missed their only chance.
Back from milking, the frost having disappeared during chores, I headed to the kitchen for cleaning up the milker. Daily while scrubbing, I contemplate the next project that demands attention. Like the pigweed, I, too, am rushing projects to completion before winter sets in. Projects that will propel next year’s production or, having missed my only chance, will get pushed into 2013.
Milker away, mind made up and project selected, I pulled on my boots and opened the door to head out. My eyes downcast, a moving black speck caught them. A cricket popped onto the granite slab step at the entry and was crawling purposefully toward the house. Confidently, the cricket hopped the gap between the house and the rock, negotiated the door sill, tumbled into the house and without fanfare and fuss disappeared fast into a crack in the floor. I mentally checked off the chore of “open door, let cricket in” from my list of activities and pressed out into the morning sun.
I hope that cricket sings for me tonight with a special appreciation for my timely door opening. I imagine cricket checking “move indoors before killing frost” from its list.
We’re all in this together, from crickets to farmers. With a little luck the right doors will open and the right ones will close, and we’ll all make it through winter and be ready for next year.
There’s the cricket now.