As I drive through the valley it is hard not to pull over every mile or so , camera at the ready..this is something that needs to happen in the early morning before the tourists have had their leisurely breakfasts and are ready to hit the road. The wind has hammered us in the last 24 hours and the hose that was put away neatly for the season is back in use. Winds are common in fall all along the length of California, though in the South they tend to come off the dessert and be hot and desiccating , the stuff that leads to bad fires in the hills. Here the hills are green. At Franciscan, this wonderful nod to fall caught my eye.
Thinking here about a 'favorite ' month. They all have attributes- though those of August have slipped my mind at the moment , and I have my doubts about January . May is full of promise and spring abundance, and just about everything is blooming at least a little in June. October however, has features that are undeniably compelling, with the added urgency of the proximity to the descent into winter. If October is frost -free , everything still grows and bursts with maturity and sheer size; in this garden only the Dahlias suffer-victims of the shade that invariably comes before leaves are gone. Certain corners are damp and shady, but the hose is put away and the roses gather themselves for another display of flowers before the frost comes. In the valley the vines are turning and we see Sycamores, Pistache, Poplars -many trees that annoy us 10 months out of the year , but for whom all is forgiven in October.
A welcomed visitor- the hose will be retired at least for the next week or so; there is enough in the buckets to satisfy the containers. The first rain was windy, and heavy, no polite entry into the season this year and the soil looks uniformly dark again, the plants clean, the containers plumped up. The rain gauge logged 4.5 inches, very believable in view of the water level in the neighborhood park.
I admit to being lulled by the aroma of woodsmoke. the fog laying off the coast, the funky ageing hippie vibe, and the possibility to grow anything---unless it's a tomato. There is nothing like it, and it is not for everyone.
Digging Dog was an absolute revelation, brillantly designed borders and oddly placed 50 miles from nowhere.. how many people actually get to see this ? Fall was quite clearly arrived , but honored in a spectacular way by the design of the garden.
It seems uncomprehensible that I have waited so long to return here after the family moved away. And it feels odd-but not bad- to be a tourist again after so many years as a quasi-local. It is horribly dry here-the 2 years of less than normal rainfall have left a mark that I could easily recognize;I don't think I have ever seen it look so brown . My cottage at Agate Cove is cozy, pretty, well stocked and has a lovely view to the sea and the headlands. There is a garden and I note the spires of Echium , sadly bloomed out but with a hint of their summer glory.
The midday sunshine of fall is a pleasant sort, it feels good to stand in, and looks wonderful slanting through the trees and falling gently onto the flowers and foliage of the garden, lighting them back to front-seemingly from within. It seems impossible to take a photo of this , though I know that really talented lens-jockeys can do so. The reader will have to be content with this effort.