I like fall gardening best. Partly because I don’t like to be hot.
Fall gardening involves pruning and ordering, bringing life under control. Life isn’t controllable and it’s satisfying to pretend it is. I clipped a poisonous thorny hedge that recalled Sleeping Beauty’s hundred-year briars. I clipped it relentlessly until it clung to the privacy fence it was meant to enhance, and its thorns left red welts all over my arms. Remembering that there were long-handled clippers in the garage, I attacked the last towering spires of thorns. Then I pruned two bushes that were reaching for the second story of the house, and felt mercy only for the two birds’ nests, letting them each retain a sheltering canopy. There would be robins. I carried armloads of branches to the curb. My arms itched. I clipped holly bushes, and little maples trying to shoot up everywhere, and I squinted at the low-hanging hawthorn tree branches but let them be. I clipped back the lavender next to the driveway and then attacked dandelions with a claw tool and I sat my butt down in the dirt. My aggression was gone. Sometimes I throw all my stuff, my aggression and depression, at the rowing machine at the gym, and the bad feelings vaporize in twenty minutes. I stumble off it in a daze. Sitting in the dirt with my claw hand, I felt quiet, finally. It amazed me less that plants grew than that any of them survived the winter. Seemingly dead—mums, lavender—they revive. Like a marriage, a friendship, a mood that might kill you. I cut the briars and woke up.