The first frost warning was posted last Saturday--with a projected 34 F as the overnight temperature.
We have learned the hard way that the presence of Big Creek winding along the road below the house often leads to temps a few degrees colder than experienced at the gardens of a friend who lives about 3 miles away and removed from the vicinity of the creek.
The day had been blustery and dark.
G. and M. arriving an hour before dusk on their nightly walk volunteered to assist in bringing in the houseplants which have summered on the front porch.
Begonias still in flower were crowded onto an old table in the basement beneath a hanging florescent strip.
Geraniums and a Christmas cactus lined the floor awaiting another table, another light.
The huge heavy pots containing the Angel Wing and Beefsteak begonias are ranged in the tiny front hallway.
The rosemarys and the potted lavenders remain on the porch, which looks bare and forlorn, bereft of the colorful flowers.
What I am to do with 17 small lavenders is a conundrum. I think every seed in the packet must have germinated!
It was well after 7 when I arose on Sunday morning; the sun was shimmering through the trees that border the creek. The grass shone with wet, but didn't appear frosty.
M. marched up the drive moments later, getting his walk in at the beginning of the day and informed me that there was white frost on the grassy strips still shaded by the trees.
When I ventured outside I found that the zinnias--so bold and coarsely handsome, had succumbed to the light frost and now were grey and limp.
Roses still bloomed and a few bees moved sluggishly over the Michaelmas daisies.
Sunday was an example of October's 'bright blue weather'.
The air was crisp, but the sun had warmth.
The pink cosmos still shone in their tumbled row, a bit frayed about the edges.
The hardy Knock-Out roses by the garage were unfazed by a chilly night.
All week the weather was fitful--often with dark and ominous clouds filling the horizon in one direction while the sun cast long shadows in another.
It seemed warmer outdoors than inside the house and I prowled, restless, anxious to record what must surely be almost the last blooms of summer.
A vulture glides through a billow of grey cloud.
I brought in the last of the green peppers.
We picked the center heads of broccoli two weeks ago, but there were delectable side shoots
ready for harvest.
I went out with a large bowl to gather seed heads from the ravaged zinnias and used a smaller one to collect still more of the cosmos seeds.
Noticing that the catnip had made a flourishing come-back after the rather spindly stalks formed [and cut down] in the wet summer weeks, I cut bundles of it and spread them on baking sheets to dry in the oven.
Coming into the kitchen from my outdoor labors I was met with the heady scent of catnip gusting from the oven vents. Cats hovered in the kitchen in various stages of glassy eyed intoxication.
I fought them out of the way while I stripped the crisped leaves from the stalks and rubbed them through a sieve. I tossed the dried stems onto the mat outside the kitchen door where Nellie and Charlie promptly wallowed in ecstasy.
Each evening brought chilly temperatures and winds that whisked fallen leaves about the dooryard.
I draped old tablecloths on the two cherry tomato plants which have been living in the carport, kept an old quilted spread over the one producing tomato plant in the upper garden.
I made up a fire and sat beside it in the evening, reading or stitching.
Thursday was cold, scarcely 50 degrees F. The wind bit meanly through my jeans, whipped hair loose from my braid, huffed its cold breath down my neck.
I walked again along the edges of the garden, camera in hand, with a sense of 'last time for this season.'
Fuzzy seed heads of clematis decorate the trellis.
Feverfew, new this year, makes a brave show with its chartreuse leaves and small white daisy flowers.
Salvia and achillea compete for room in a corner of the top perennial strip.
Still a few blooms on the phlox.
Blanc Double de Coubert--one of the most fragrant, now unmolested by the Japanese beetles that destroyed earlier bloom.
Wise Portia--a bit leggy, un-pruned since the summer rains.
I found my stout garden fork and up-earthed some of the achillea which in one season has crowded along the front steps. I carried it down to the lower perennial strip and set it in where the ill-fated dianthus
failed to flourish.
Edward offers his assistance--while hoping to make use of the crumbled and over-turned soil.
I left the bedraggled gardens to the inevitable ravages of the cold wind.
Inside I built up the fire, stood gratefully under a hot shower.
I found clean clothes--layers of snuggly pullovers, a pair of wooly socks.
I got out my favorite mug and set the teakettle to heat.
It was necessary to dispute Teasel's claim to my rocking chair.
M. coming in a few minutes later chuckled to find me tucked up by the fire with cats sprawled on the hearth rug, curled on the sofa, close to the warmth.
'You'd think it was winter!' he exclaimed.
When the frost comes, can winter be far behind?