I spend the mornings in the flowers—cutting back, pulling up, raking out. I’m late this year—the frost already thick on the grass when the sun drops the diamonds of first light. My mother-in-law told me to wait; let the birds glean what they will, she said. And they did. The coneflower is dry as straw, the Black-eyed Susans blink. All the color is gone from the garden. The brittle browns and faded rusts shush me as they rub together in the wind.
I rake leaf remains out from around tubers—their subtle reds and golds like scattered gems. The thick bands of iris greens break easily with fingers. I smooth around their fibrous heads, let them breathe. Already the leaves have started to make rich compost–the soil underneath fragrant and dark. I breathe deep its heady scent, close my eyes and dig fingers in the cool moist.
This afternoon the robins are in a frenzy over my newly cleared soil.