Rendered Fat Content


Ann Nooney: Closing time (1937-1942)

"I wonder if he'll ever discover the secret."

Eventually, every inevitable comes, every denial fails, and time slinks on. Even the once-endless Summer, gone to Autumn over a month ago, also ends. The first frost arrives with the news of the first frost's arrival, for it sucks the final sense that we might make it to Thanksgiving without regrets, without forfeiting anything. The slow Summer builds, gardens finally grown to blossom and fruit still look as though they might last forever. Some neighbors pre-emptively pull their impatiens, geraniums, and petunias, assassinating offspring to deny the assassin the satisfaction of freezing them out. I'll collect our corpses once they're well-wilted and ready for composting.

The Muse pulled her summer garden, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers, picked over and uprooted.
I divided the rhubarb, boxing up a couple of crowns for a friend. I'd promised them to him before campaigning got the better of me, the best of my Summer season, distracting me from fulfilling my obligation until the very last possible minute. The hoses drain and coil and store, sprinklers tucked away. I even blew off the driveway, raising a dust cloud, half of my effort blowing back into my face as the weather front moved in. The herb garden started fading two weeks ago, sensing before I'd accepted that their long run was finally ending. Sometimes, the garden tends the gardener.

What I considered work I remember as play. In two days’ time, I will be denied both work and play, and I wonder how I'll apportion my days. I will no longer sit on the back deck late into the afternoon. I will not want to putter around the garage. I disassemble my paint shop and help the painter load up his tools. He has one last swipe of top coat to apply to the last two patches, that old dryer vent hole now disguised forever. We remounted the gazebo roof hip boards, securing them with black-headed nail resembling buttons, ButtoningUp. Their once-worn surfaces were sanded smooth and lovingly painted just in time for hibernation. By Spring, the moss will have started to grow back on that roof again. It always has.

The last mow of the year chews up the first fallen leaves. I mulch my summer into the soil, believing this benefits the worms. After an almost fifteen-year absence, my composting worms returned to my composting bins. When The Muse and I were in exile, nobody used the compost bins for anything other than storing paving bricks. Since we returned, I cleaned them up and have been assiduously saving kitchen and yard waste until I've created actual compost. I've noticed red wigglers—composting worms—writhing in my heap in the last few weeks. They'd apparently fled into the soil and waited patiently for my return before migrating back upward once their domain was restored. By Spring, they will have dispatched the remains of last summer's gardens, and the cycle will begin again in better balance.

I have a little more weeding to do, a victory lap, for I was in a continual battle all Summer with the mallow, cheatgrass, and morning glory. I came close to winning, but of course, not permanently. I weed nostalgically rather than strategically now, knowing for certain that the weeds will return to challenge me again. This work will be suspended but will remain neverending. Battening down and ButtoningDown, I will never feel fully prepared. The Muse closed the cat door, declaring it too cold now to keep it propped open. Max was just now meowing just outside it. I wonder if he'll ever discover the secret that he can push it open with his forehead. I doubt that he will.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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