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I picked a third crop of bush beans yesterday – more than I’ve ever had. The yellow wax beans didn’t exactly jump up into the harvest basket. In fact, it was the hardest picking I’ve ever done. Beans wanted to say where they were, dry out, and have babies. I noticed only an occasional purple bloom, so I pulled the plants. Mother Earth said it was time.

 Winter on this land begins leaving small scratch marks on the back door in late August. The signs are small, almost imperceptible now, but they’ve begun to gather already like dry leaves before a storm. Everything’s ripening furiously, creating seeds. Tomatoes won’t be seedy though. They only do that in a drought year, when the plants sense a bad time ahead and act accordingly.

 A few squadrons of barn swallows fledged recently, leaving more than two dozen youngsters swooping and darting and chasing across the evening sky in their daring acrobatics, happy to be free of the nest. These birds feed only on flying insects, ridding the world of more mosquitoes even than bats. But the mosquitoes are almost gone, and so go the swallows – drawn by a secret, overpowering urge to join thousands of their kind, following the stars of the Southern Cross 5,000 miles to Brazil and Argentina.

 The sun’s pendulum swung shorter each day, losing a minute on every arc, until it triggered some primordial trip wire in the pituitary gland and sent these graceful companions of summer on their heroic, no-frills flight.

 Watch the stars; remember the stars. Keep the coast on your wing. We’ll wish you well.

About lifegrower

Peter V. Fossel has been gardening since he was nine, and has been an organic farmer for the last 20 years. His most recent book, “Organic Farming, Everything You Need to know” was published by Voyageur Press, Minneapolis, 2007. He’s written numerous gardening articles for Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Country Journal, Out Here, and American Profile among others. He was Gardens Manager for The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson in Tennessee before returning to Cape Cod to start his newest organic venture, Swan River Farm in Dennisport, MA.
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