The Surrender

Every summer around this time, a feeling of overwhelming defeat comes over me. It’s a feeling of surrender that is not particularly comfortable. It’s been slowly sneaking up on me, but I got it full blast this morning. I needed something from the barn, so I booted up and went. I hadn’t been down there in a while. As I walked through the calf-high weeds, I noticed the pond was now covered with a thick layer of bright green duckweed. If you let your eyes go out of focus while looking at it, you could mistake it for a neatly trimmed lawn.

The fruit trees, once looking so hopeful and full of fruit, are now a mess. The quince trees seem to have contracted dreaded fireblight and are dotted with rusty dead leaves; the profuse amount of fruit they had only a month ago are now scattered on the ground. The apple trees also have dropped a lot of the fruit, probably due to the dry spell we had in June. The few apples left seem stunted. And the plum’s brown rot has returned with a vengeance. Every plum is gone.

I tried to find some things to lift my spirits–there were the ramps flowers, like tiny white fireworks popping out of the green mix of ivy and jewelweed. There were the small frilly packages of hazelnuts growing out of leggy bushes. But all that didn’t quite carry me out of that feeling brought on by the poison ivy crawling every where, strident and imperious, the gray dogwood arching both into the pond and the lawn, the unstoppable new stand of hazel alders, and the grape vines snaking around absolutely everything.

I know I have to give in to it, but still I fight it. Every year. It feels so sinister, and I can almost hear it whispering to me. I’m not sure why I fight it. But once I give in, though hard at first, it stops being so threatening. In fact, once I stop trying to control it all and instead allow things to be as they are, I am quite calm once again.


  1. Love this post and completely relate to it. I was just thinking longingly of that period in the spring when the bulbs are waking up and it’s warm enough to enjoy working outside but no weeds are growing yet and everything feels so promising and manageable. But yes, give in! I actually was making myself feel better the other day looking at our sad apple trees and grapes by thinking about how you’ve written about how hard it is to grow fruit and how easy it is to buy it from local farmers who can devote the time, attention and money it requires to succeed to it.

    1. It’s such a strong feeling, isn’t it? I knew back in early June to savor my garden while it still was within bounds. Glad you felt better about your sad apples–we’ll be happy to buy them in the fall!

  2. Even now as I look out at the sea of richweed and the baby cherry trees nibbled to skeletons by the deer and the wild raspberry that has taken over the front walk, I hold out a sliver of desperate hope that I can rein it in. But no, best to resign myself, as you say.

  3. I think this is our worst garden year ever. I’m having a hard time dealing with the disappointment. I know there are far worse troubles out there (an understatement), but it’s still a major bummer. 😦

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