When did it get to be September? Apparently I wasn't looking. But I just turned my back for a few minutes, I swear. A week ago, we traded the 95-plus temperatures here for the 100-plus temperatures of southern New Mexico. It may be, as everyone there points out, a "dry heat," but it would be easier to live with if it would cool off at night enough to at least consider opening a window.
While we were gone, summer not only opened its windows, but carelessly left the back door ajar as well, and fall began creeping in. Or at least it started sniffing around the opening. It was chilly here this morning. Summer, still lush and arrogant with this year's abundant rain, just hasn't noticed yet that its days are growing shorter.
Neither have our tomato plants. It's been almost six weeks since they were stripped of all their leaves and most of their fruit by a hailstorm. They were nothing but battered stalks that obviously needed to be pulled up and tossed onto the compost pile.
Before I got around to cleaning up the mess the hail had made of them, though, the plants started to recover. A few leaves started growing back, and then a few more, and now the plants are almost as tall as they were before the hail, vibrant with new green leaves and covered with blossoms.
I don't have the heart to tell them that all their hard work is in vain. There's no way they can produce another crop before the first hard frost. It's like seeing someone get badly injured in a car accident, who survived surgery and has been working furiously at rehab and making a great recovery—only you've seen this movie before and you know they're going to walk out of the hospital and get run over by a garbage truck. I can see what's going to happen, but I can't do a thing to stop it.
Meanwhile, out on the deck, the two pots of pansies that also got hit by the hail are still blooming. The first hailstorm smashed them into a quarter of an inch of green mush. About half the plants didn't survive. Within a week, however, battered stems with a few tattered leaves had managed to stagger more or less upright and put out defiant buds. Two weeks later, the second hailstorm knocked them around. Beaten but unvanquished, they were blooming again within a few days. They are blooming still, their vivid yellow and purple making the most of every day between now and the first freeze.
In her first draft of Gone With the Wind, the name Margaret Mitchell chose for her heroine wasn't Scarlett O'Hara. It was Pansy. I can understand why.
Fall may be just around the corner, but its time hasn't quite come yet. It can wait its turn.