Autumnal Rites

Variegated Porcelain Vine berries, an autumnal beauty
However busy you are these days in physical labor, spare a few moments to enjoy the beauty of the flowers that remain. Richardson Wright, The Gardener’s Bed-Book 1929

According to an entry in Mr. Wright’s Bed-Book, I should’ve divided my irises in August to share with other growers. It’s not that I’m stingy. Years ago, I carried a basket of iris rhizomes everywhere until they were no more. I wrapped the gnarly things in tissue tied with a bow.
In Mr. Wright’s day, the landscape in view from his Connecticut hilltop flourished with his iris offspring. He kept a bucket of tubers on hand for conspirators who dropped by in hopes of securing a cutting from a prized rose. Wise man.
On this hilltop come August, flowers play second fiddle to food. Have to harvest and freeze raspberries and green beans. Can tomatoes, hang onions and garlic.
It’s tough, but I’ve learned to suffer the sight of seed heads for a pantry and freezer full of homegrown vegetables and fruit. What a glorious feeling when the last butternut squash is baked and frozen for winter soup.
Mr. Wright is on the money when he says, “By the end of September, one becomes surfeited with garden beauty.”
It’s the physical, emotional, and financial cost to sustain succession of color that leaves me wishy-washy about buying mums pumped with Miracle Grow. If deer don’t destroy them, winter will. Oh, but it’s tempting to pull into a nursery and walk amongst the scent of blooming chrysanthemums. An autumnal rite.
An alternative is to meander along our country roads and the Polly Ann Trail and harvest a handful of asters. Their dark purple, lavender, and white starry blooms make a darling and long-lasting bouquet.
There’s one on my kitchen table, a gift of nature’s cultivation. If only asters thrived on our little estate. I cannot tell you the number I’ve planted and lost the past thirty years.
Asters appear with apple cider and cinnamon donuts. Michigan’s comfort food at its best! A perfect way to celebrate summer’s end in the tang of coloring leaves.
“At such time we should not expect too much of the garden,” says Mr. Wright. “Let us turn our eyes to the rich panoply the trees are beginning to put on and the multitude of colored berries the bushes now hang out to indicate that their cycles also have been completed.”
Ah yes, the iridescent turquoise, lilac, and blue edible berries of the variegated porcelain vine. To my great pleasure, the plant grows happily here and prefers the south side of the pergola.
Another autumnal rite, I decorate my dining room table with the vines. Any flower lover is thrilled to receive a handful.  
Mr. Wright concludes, “The secreting of porch and garden furniture in the bowels of the barn—is an act of finality that brings me complete satisfaction.”
Me too, dear Reader.
Then I spare those moments on my backyard swing, observe the panoply of cycles turn, turn, turn.