“A cold pocket”—it sounds like something a snowman might have. But that’s where I live, in the snowman’s coat, in his cold pocket. In a valley. Where the chilly- heavy air has a tendency to linger, to cling on a breeze-less night. And this year, on the morning September 19th , this pocket’s white […]
“A cold pocket”—it sounds like something a snowman might have.
But that’s where I live, in the snowman’s coat, in his cold pocket. In a valley. Where the chilly- heavy air has a tendency to linger, to cling on a breeze-less night.
And this year, on the morning September 19th , this pocket’s white lint—our first frost—was everywhere: clinging to each blade of grass, crystallizing flower petals, glazing the platter leaves of pumpkin vines.
Those who don’t grow their own basil or tomatoes, those who don’t give a hoot about the zinnias, cosmos, or the morning glory with its lovely blue cuffs, well then, this first dip below freezing since May 23 is of little consequence.
But for the food growing and flower loving denizens of the cold hollows of Zone 3, already one of the most ephemeral growing season in the continental United States, this quick trip below 32 degrees signaled the end of a warmer season, the way the red-winged blackbird clucking and wheezing in last April’s trees harkened the beginning.
But the compelling part, what gets me, is that it is not the icy décor that ruins summer’s colorful party, exactly, but instead it’s the inability of certain plants’ cells to withstand the drastic temperature changes. As the morning sun warms the frozen leaves, their cell walls break, irreparably. And though it has no audible sound, no bang, no whimper, the effect is unmistakable—now the morning glory leaves are dark and slack, like dripping paint.
Yes, the trauma of cell walls’ bursting can be averted by casting all one’s towels, sheets, tarps, and blankets across one’s acres. Yes. But no amount of bedding will an cushion or prevent the crisp, definitive truth: this growing season is almost over. Already the sun is setting south of the Kroeger’s farmhouse, (which, from my vantage, sets north of their dooryard from late May till mid September, a span which, coincidentally, mirrors this year’s episode of 118 frost- free days).
And who am I to whine, when the almost seventeen weeks of warmth and rain and sun have helped procure a harvest to feed me and my husband through the frost filled days and months to come?
I’m not whining, I’m documenting: this is a dispatch from one of New England’s cooler patches: we had a chilly night, and in the dazzling morning, everything was frost tipped and some of the uncovered leaves and petals died right there in that beautiful light.
And soon, we won’t be able to discern the difference between the Snowman’s cold pocket and his voluminous white coat.