The Month Of Unrealized Dreams

The beginning of any new year is always a time of excitement. We gaze out at the days, weeks, and months to come and eagerly make our plans of all the wonderful things we’re going to do. Some of us plan housing renovation projects, others plan dream vacations, while still others eagerly look forward to upcoming weddings, confirmations, bar- or bat-mitzvahs, family reunions, college and high school class reunions, etc. All in all, we look forward to a wonderful year of fun and accomplishment.

Then, come September, we realize that many of the dreams we’ve dreamed and the plans we’ve made have gone unfulfilled. We’ve allowed day-to-day minutia and/or events and circumstances, anticipated or otherwise, to hinder fulfillment of January’s plans and dreams. And this year, of course, we’ve had an additional wrinkle – a protein-spiked virus called SARS-CoV-2, which has wreaked havoc on so many lives – perhaps even those of friends, loved ones, or even you yourself.

So it’s no wonder that for some of us, when September arrives, we look back at the emerging life and warmth of spring and the long days and easy weather of summer with regret, disappointment, and even sadness. Then we look ahead to the upcoming months of fall and winter with a sense of doom and foreboding and wonder if we will ever fulfill our dreams and achieve our goals.

There’s an old saying that goes, “If you’re happy, don’t worry, you’ll get over it.” Sounds rather depressing at first, but look below the surface. What it means is that nothing lasts forever. Good times, good feelings, and easy-weather seasons don’t remain forever. Sooner or later, they end, and less than perfect feelings, situations, and seasons arise. But the flip side is also true. Bad times, bad feelings, and bad seasons don’t last forever either. They, too, have their conclusion. It may be hard to believe when you’re right in the thick of winter snow and freezing temperatures, job loss, the fallout from the actions of a wayward child, or the devastation of a pandemic. But in the words of an old gospel tune, “clouds and storm will in time pass away; the sun again will shine bright and clear.” All of the garbage that’s happening right now – whether it be the world’s garbage or your own personal trash, will eventually come to an end. The storms will pass and we will see sunshine again. And when we do, we will dream new dreams, and rise up again with new determination to fulfill them. And then, when another September rolls around, we’ll look back with joy and happiness and say, “What do you know? I did everything that I so carefully planned out at the year’s beginning.”

We who grow gardens know this very well. Every spring, we eagerly plan out what we want to grow and how we’re going to arrange it. We prepare our soil and put our seeds and plants in the ground. We water them, feed them, and weed them. And then, in September, we look at the results. Does everything always go according to plan? No, it does not. Sometimes, weather conditions are not always favorable to our efforts. Sometimes, we try some new plants or new varieties of familiar plants, and the results fail to live up to our expectations. Sometimes insects and animals tear through our garden like a cannonball through toilet paper and leave us with nothing but dead or dying plants. And yes, we gardeners are subject to the same kind of disappointment and regret that anyone else who didn’t take that vacation or never started that home repair project might feel. But we gardeners also have a never-say-die attitude. We mourn the unfulfilled results of our labors, but then we pick ourselves up and we say, “Next year will be better.” And then when the next year rolls around, we plan, prepare, plant, and cultivate anew. And then come September, we say, “What do you know? I got a bountiful harvest this year.

So don’t let the regret of what you didn’t accomplish this year get you down. There will always be new opportunities for new plans and new successes. Keep dreaming about and planning out those goals, projects, vacations, and, of course, gardens. And then you’ll wake up one September morning and realize that you are living in a month of fulfilled goals and realized dreams.

Brown Gold for Your Garden

The leaves of brown came tumbling down
Remember
That September
In the rain

-Harry Warren and Al Dubin

The shortening days of autumn signal the leaves on the trees to stop producing chlorophyll. This, in turn, causes the green to slowly fade revealing the remaining colorful pigments. Soon, even those begin to fade away, and the leaves soon fall to the ground and start to decompose.

Most homeowners will merely rake the leaves into piles, toss the piles in bags, and bring those bags to the curb for the recyclers or garbage men to take away. But we gardeners know better than to do that. Instead of letting those leaves take up space in a landfill where they are no good to anyone, we use these leaves to enrich our garden soil and restore the nutrients that our garden vegetable crops have taken away. And unlike real gold, this brown gold costs nothing to “mine and refine.”

So how do we make the best use of this brown gold?

  1. Pile whole leaves on top of the soil as a mulch to protect bulbs such as garlic, onions, or even flower bulbs such as tulip, snowdrop, and crocus.
  2. Chop them up finely, add them to a compost pile, and let them decompose along with the rest of the material in there. Chopping is necessary, as it creates more surface area and allows the bacteria to decompose the leaves in less time. If your own trees aren’t producing enough leaves to give you sufficient compost, offer to take some from your friends and neighbors. I’m sure they’ll be happy to oblige, unless of course they want them for their own compost pile.
  3. Chop them up finely and work them directly into your garden soil. During the following three or four months of winter, the soil bacteria will break down the chopped leaves and release the nutrient material in those leaves into the soil. When spring arrives, you’ll have looser, lighter, more nutrient-rich soil all ready for spring planting.

So don’t waste this precious nutrient-laden material that Mother Nature gives us for free every autumn. Let’s recycle this precious organic material back into our gardens. It’s going to decompose and release nutrients no matter what we do or don’t do. So let’s work with Mother Nature. I promise you that if we do, then Mother Nature will work with us.