Fall is the most compelling time in the garden. In place of the long, gentle unwinding and developing that characterizes the warm season, the open ended nature of growth, there is an end. Fall brings completion, finality, conclusion. Whether it comes in the guise of fruition and harvest, fading falling blossoms, or the abrupt discipline of the first killing frost, fall ends the expansion that drives the garden.
Look to the garden then, to see how fall expresses itself. Look at the haggard tomatoes, so recently bold and dominant lording a green canopy over all else. Now they stand exhausted, yellowing foliage dripping, desperately struggling to bring a last faint blush to their resolutely green fruit.
See the lone pumpkin, no gold yet lighting its cheek, looming dark green and glossy. It sits alone, isolated, abandoned by its vine during a hasty retreat. Yet to be decided is whether it has a use or not; it may be left to rot as it sits.
The ranks of peppers stand, drooping, weighted down by scores of fruit camoflaged in the deep green leaves. They mimic the twisted posture of old men loaded with cares and devoid of hope. Like the nearby tomatoes, they hasten to bring a last few fruit to ripeness before they are struck down. Loaded as they are, their future seems unlikely—the hand of the gardener will take all they bear, unformed and immature as they may be, to ripen or rot inside.
The barren and dessicated cornstalks stand, bolder in their death than their living compatriots. They stand tall and proud over the garden, bleached by the sun.
Look past the towering failures; look low, down and see the plants that prosper even as the frost surely approaches. These are the modest plants that have yet to take their place in the season's bounty, yet they will, long after the others have rotted and been turned under.
Row after row, where the towering titans of summer have departed, stand the small, inconspicuous grey plants.