The first frost came a little early, showing up on the grass Tuesday morning. I was caught off-guard and didn't have any plants covered in the garden. It was a very light frost though, and didn't do too much damage. I always figure the first frost comes to my valley around the 16th of September, but it's not a big surprise to see it on the 12th. In the natural world, nothing is chiseled in stone.
Sunny and 75 degrees at mid-day on Wednesday, it was a great day for getting things done outside. While transplanting some perennials, I noticed a couple of large Dragonflies making looping figure-eights over the garden. I watched them for a couple of minutes, then went back to work. It was one of those days, that because of the humidity, it felt warmer than it really was. It didn't take much effort to break a little sweat, and now there were mosquitoes to deal with. To my surprise, within an hour there seemed to be Dragonflies everywhere. From out of nowhere, the Dragonflies just all showed up together—lots of them. I tried to get a rough count of the ones I could see, which isn't easy because of the way they can zoom around. I think it was safe to say I could see from 60 to 100 Dragonflies at any one time. There had been a large emergence of these beautiful, long-winged flies at the same time that there was a hatch of mosquitoes—interesting when you consider that Dragonflies eat mosquitoes. I hadn't seen a large hatch of Dragonflies all summer. They usually show up in large numbers around the second week of August. This year they showed up on the 13th of September, the latest I've ever seen a hatch here in the Kickapoo Valley.
Wednesday night's low temperature was 44 degrees, and I knew there wouldn't be any frost, so I didn't bother to cover any garden plants. By sunset on Thursday, it definitely felt like it would freeze before morning, so I covered the things I wanted to save with old sheets and light plastic tarps. It's still too early to lose the tomatoes and some of the beautiful flowers. It may be a couple of weeks until the next killing frost and I like to keep the colorful flowers around as long as I can. There weren't enough sheets and tarps to cover everything, so I cut several nice bouquets of Zinnias and Salvia for the house. I cut several more bunches and hung them up to dry, along with some bunches of mint, basil and sage to help add some flavor to winter.
I figured the Scarlet runner beans and Morning glories wouldn't be able to survive the frost and would surely wilt if the temperature dropped into the 20s.
Sure enough, when I stepped out on the porch early the next morning, everything was covered with heavy, white frost. Nothing to do but admire how strikingly beautiful the frost was. The ground was completely covered in white, as well as every bush, board and tree. At that moment, rather than fret about the frozen flowers, I enjoyed the natural beauty of the frost. Within seconds after the morning sun touched the frosty tree tops, the white disappeared. As the warm sun's rays touched the tree-covered hillside, it slowly melted its way down the shady valley. The melting frost drew a straight line across the tops of the trees. The contrast between sun and frost is one of Nature's more unique visuals.
Within half an hour after the frost was gone, the Zinnias had lost their summer colors. The Morning glories and Runner beans were finished too, all their lush green foliage hanging limp on the vines--expect for a few protected ones where the porch meets the house.
It sounds like warm weather is in the forecast, so I'm glad I covered some of the flower beds to keep the frost at bay. I'll try to squeeze every last drop out of summer before it's gone for good.
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