Is My Garden Warning of a Fierce Winter to Come?

Our blueberries have already ripened. We harvested them last week. I thought it was a bit early but then I heard on the news that blueberry farmers were desperate to find rakers because of the early harvest. So, I wasn’t imagining things.

When we first moved to Maine, I read A Year in the Maine Woods by Bernd Heinrich…twice. That book helped me learn about the intricacies of nature’s seasonal dances in Maine, which are far different from those in Texas. One of my favorite passages from Henrich’s book is from August 14th: “The fields are daily coming more alive with crickets and grasshoppers, a sure sign that fall is near.”

Ever since reading that 10 years ago, I have listened for the crickets in mid-August each year. Max was born during that time (he’s almost 9 now) and he, too, listens for the crickets. Max loves all things related to Fall and Halloween, just like his mom. The other night, we were outside admiring our HUGE pumpkin plants at dusk. Max cocked his head suddenly and whispered, “Sssshhhh.” Following his lead, I did the same and we both smiled at each other and said, “CRICKETS!” at the same time. It wasn’t just one cricket. A cacophony was emerging from the garden with the deepening dusk. We were thrilled!

Anyway, back to the pumpkins. I have planted Big Max pumpkin seeds every single year, along with other varieties. The Big Max seeds never worked for us, until this year. Three pumpkin vines have taken over part of the backyard and we already have baby pumpkins growing on them. They’re growing so fast that I’m thinking about taking daily pictures to see the transformation. We also have many other pumpkin and squash vines growing but Max and I are absolutely tickled by the huge ones. We can’t WAIT to see how big our pumpkins get! And, yes, I’ve already started trimming the feeder vines to ensure more nutrition gets to the pumpkins themselves. We even have a small pumpkin vine growing by the back door. They don’t always grow there but, when they do, I put a small table by the back steps. I then gently move the growing pumpkins there to entertain guests. One pumpkin vine has grown over our fence, onto the driveway, and a pumpkin has started growing from it, off the ground. That happened last year, too, and we ended up with a very elongated pumpkin.

You probably already knew this about me but I LOVE gardening and I am a bit fanatic about our pumpkins each year! Of course, it’s great having Max share in my excitement and Mason (age 4) is also getting very interested in plants and critters now. 🙂

Our small blackberries and raspberries have already come and gone (they got eaten quite quickly). Our large blackberries are just starting to ripen and my grape vines are producing nicely. A couple of time a week, I need to feed the grape vines back onto the fence because they keep trying to creep up one of the maple trees. We don’t use any chemicals in the yard at all and he children eat the sweets right off the plants and vines.

All the nature signs in our garden are pointing toward an early, harsh winter. In fact, this morning we woke up and it was only in the 60s (it’ll be in the 50’s tonight!). We turned off all the air conditioners and opened the windows.

The cool breeze sure reminds me of the first cold front of each season in Texas. The entire community comes alive when that first cool breeze comes to town, seeming to blow away the hot, humidity-laden summer. If you live down south, you know what I’m talking about. I’ll keep you posted on the pumpkins. Here’s what they look like right now.

This week’s Maxism:

“Ali is good. She isn’t like one of those mean sisters.”

Hugs to all!


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