My friend, Debbie B., asked me a question on Friday, and I’ve thought about it ever since. She and her son wondered why fall colors echo the colors of Thanksgiving. Why does this holiday which is all about gratitude follow the same pattern as its surrounding clime? Why the beauty–the yellow of the Cottonwood leaves, the red of the Sumac, the oaks’ burnt orange umber?
At first, being my ever-practical self, my answer was that we took nature’s cue and clothed our holidays likewise. This makes sense, when we consider Thanksgiving where we celebrate our gratitude for an abundant harvest with a feast of color. Think of the candied orange sweet potatoes, the golden brown of turkey skin, the paler orange squash of pumpkin pie, pecan pie’s crunchy caramel, united by the green of pole beans (unless they are swimming in a creamy casserole and topped with Durkee onions.) At Christmas, the predominant red and green are the same colors as the evergreen plants representing life at that darkest time of the year: hollies with their red berries, pines and cedars.
But why would nature, at the very time we need to harvest food in anticipation of winter, go out in a blaze of glory? It could just as easily wind down like a timepiece, fading slowly from gray to black. After much discussion, Deb and I decided autumn is a gift straight from God, and this being Green Thumb Sunday, well . . . .
I am reminded of a children’s book written by Cynthia Rylant titled The Dreamer. It is no longer in print, but can be found used on Amazon. It is the creation story from Genesis, and God is represented as an artist so filled with energy that He must create. There are pages of flourish and color and so begins the world.
In a small way, we gardeners do the same thing. Whether we’re planting for food or for pleasure, we plan our spaces inserting just the right colors here and there. Beautiful blues to cool the hottest day. Yellows and white to buffer clashing colors. When I first started working with roses and perennials, I only thought of the blossoms in pinks, reds and yellows. It was later that I began to realize how important green is as a unifier. Much of the garden remains in green, and it is this color that gives the eye rest.
We’ve had a few weeks of lovely foliage and fabulous weather, but we’re told that Thanksgiving will be cold as a front is headed our way. I know that some of us find this time of year depressing because it is the end of the gardening season, and winter looms ahead, but I like to think of it as a time of rest for us and our plants to build up energy for next year. That way, we can plan our future gardens, the ones we always carry in our minds and hearts.