Thursday, November 11, 2010

Color in the Garden: Harvest Gold

How jaunty! How dashing! What brilliance! What warmth!

I awoke yesterday morning, shuffled, sleep-deprived, into my home study yet possessed of a particular kind of energy that precipitates from the prospect of teaching in a few hours, and was greeted by a radiating brilliance in the backyard garden. Overnight, the Krossa Regal hostas flushed themselves of their viridity, leaving this most arresting shade of gold: a rich and fertile color that, in its exuberance, alights the dawn, anoints the harvest, and exudes gratitude for the gardener’s efforts throughout the rapidly ending season.

The metamorphosis is, I think, as spectacular as June Plantain’s bodacious, almost playful recoding of its color, though sadly June Plantain is longer of my garden (nasty Sclerotium rolfsii: a plague on your own house!). If a muted blue-green throughout the gardening season, a foil to its neighbors’ flamboyance, an adagio between allegros, Krossa Regal hosta becomes the unexpected microcosm of the autumnal world, its regality manifested most appropriately in the color of the season, the color of wealth and fortitude, strength and abundance. Long patient, content to allow others to command attention, it now very much becomes itself.

Harvest gold, for the briefest of moments, arrests the sun in the space of the garden, captures its rays, and reflects them back into the universe. This is not the cheekiness of yellow, that cautionary tale of contradiction and human frailty—as if yellow was given to us by the divine precisely to encourage us mortals to assault the divine by discovering and enacting our individual wills. No. This is very much the opposite. Harvest gold is of this earth, and emanates from it. It is magical humility, it is rootedness, it is joy in our union of sun and earth, divine and human.

Spring and autumn: the bookends of a season, each a magical moment in the macrocosmic passage of time, each possessed of its peculiar wonders. I find that the garden exposes itself more so in these bookends than at any point during the gardening season. Flash and flamboyance, brilliance and abundance: these are the summer garden’s attributes, its contributions. Such are easy to achieve. The early spring and autumn gardens, though: these are the times when each plant, each specimen, even in fleeting sorts of ways, offer to us their ethereal personalities, compel us into contemplation, and lure us back into ourselves so that we may be perfectly part of this world.

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