One of the things I have always enjoyed about making a new home feel like "ours" is opening boxes and finding the place where seasonal decorations will fit. Now that Ben and Kristen's collection of autumn stuff joins with ours, we have even more than usual. This wreath is hung on our front courtyard gate and I smile every time I see it. I hope it speaks welcome to our new neighborhood and makes our neighbors smile too. Even though we continue to have summertime temperatures here in South Texas, there is a difference in the light filtering through the still green trees. The morning mist seems heavier on the low spots as I look out over the lake behind our house. Houses are further apart, but most yards are beginning to sport some fall color, a pumpkin or two, and wreaths of their own. We are ready for fall - for autumn colors, smells of cinnamon and allspice, autumnal tables offering squashes like butternut and acorn, hot soups, and spicy chili. It is the season of fall gardens, county fairs, football games, pumpkin spice lattes, gingerbread, and apple cider. Welcome to this season.
Fall gardens on the South Texas Gulf Coast are sometimes even more productive than Spring plantings, but not this year. Tomato plants are big and leafy, with only a few small green tomatoes. Peppers are still growing, but barely. A combination of unusual wet cool weather has all but stalled any further setting of blooms. My youngest granddaughters have just spent some time here, and prove that though the gathering may be small, the joy is large. There are a number of reasons I choose to garden, and these grins are one of them. These little girls have helped me in a number of ways, and I am thrilled to pass on the joy of harvest to them. This week, as we have cut herbs and gathered peppers and chopped and cooked together, our Thanksgiving has been much more than a meal. It is a celebration of the happiness of being together, working together, and gathering all the family around Grandma Terrell's old oak table. The table is now mine, and I am now the grandmother, but I probably won't ever call it Granmary's table. The girls, however, will, and I am glad. I am thankful for those who have gone before, and these who will go beyond.
One of the great advantages of living on the South Texas Gulf Coast is that we have two growing seasons! It is true that Spring gardens often get burned with summer heat that comes on fast, but Fall gardens can be so rewarding. I planted new tomato plants about a month ago in containers that were shaded part of the day. Now that cooler temperatures have arrived, they are setting fruit. Squash and cucumbers went in a few weeks ago as well. This weekend, I will plant some Kale, collards, bok choy, and lettuces. If we have a typical mild winter, they will still be thriving until next Spring. One year we had an unusual snow day early in December and I have photos of the greens frosted with snow which only seemed to give them second wind! I love planting seeds. When my granddaughters are here, they like to plant their own rows. Our garden may be small, but it adds so much pleasure and of course, good nutritious food for our table. I will add a plug for Baker Creek Heirloom seeeds, my favorite seed catalog. www.rareseeds.com