Friday, November 6, 2009

Let the Clean-up Begin

Last month, when a repairman came to my house for a fall check-up on the heating and air conditioning units, he said to me as he was leaving, "By the way, Mrs. Rinek, I just have to ask...What is the deal with all of the dinner dishes in your gardens?" Clearly, he was a bit perplexed by the whole thing and did not appreciate what I think is the quaint charm and whimsy these dishes and curiosities lend to the appearance of the beds. After all, dishes in the garden really bring forth the true meaning of a kitchen garden, right!? Each boot, rabbit and chicken have a rightful place in my garden beds during the spring and summer seasons and all wait patiently on gathering day for their fall bath before their winter rest inside.

However, standing out here this past 'nippy' Sunday afternoon, once again, gave me a new perspective on the amount of work we gardeners choose to put into our gardens. And, washing the dishes that are displayed in my gardens is definitely not a one man job. Nor is it a job for the "faint of heart."

Kicking off November's garden "to-do" list this month by gathering up and washing all of the dishes outside always seems a bit overwhelming. My collection of blue and white plates, rabbits, chickens and balls suddenly seems more work than what it is worth. But, that feeling lasts for only the few hours it takes to hose them down, dip and wash them before washing them again in the kitchen dishwasher and finally storing them away in plastic boxes in the attic for the 6 or so months of the cold, outdoor weather yet to come.

While getting this chore done can be vexing, I try to remind myself how it feels like gifts when I open the boxes and start laying out the plates along the garden paths and tucking them next to various plants throughout the beds. The beauty and dimension they bring to the new plants bursting forth in April is charming and unique. These pieces of April and memories of summer help me through these bleak months of slumbering gardens until the catalogs begin to arrive in January and I can start planning where all of this blue and white whimsy will sprout in my garden beds next.

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