An abundance of squash the last two weeks has thinned with the rise of squash borers after a huge rainstorm. I pulled one plant that was so devoured it wasn’t even connected to the ground anymore. Another, I pulled from the flimsy threads that remained while the plant was clearly dead. I expected this, but I couldn’t do anything during the storm. And, after the storm, I knew the bugs would rise. Mosquitos come for all blood, all flesh. Squash bugs mate unchecked, and there’s nothing I do to stop them. I pulled a potato vine from the ground devoured inside-out by insects too numerous to name. The Tycoon tomatoes, so immensely productive a week ago are nearly dead. One of the pumpkin vines has already died. The other pushes on, without a plant upon its stalks, seeking out more good soil, more light.
Gardening is seasonal. There is a time when the plants have done the best they can and they fade. It’s time to clear out the dead, clear out the weeds, prepare the soil, and plant again.
Short stories are seasonal things, I think. They grow hard like little radish seeds, pushing up from the mental detritus of the soil of the mind. They grow infectious, pushing until they flower and seed and die away. Distractions come to devour them, and many die before they flower.
Novels are long-season crops, at worst, with one harvest at the end of a long, long season pulling weeds, and perennials at their very best. They grow slow from young seedling, and then when they finally – finally – mature, the fruits come, and come again and come again. Watch the tree, weed around it, and mulch it now and then. Fertilize the soil a while, and spread some word to keep people knowing, and seeking, and devouring what comes from all that old labor done and just maintained in shape and best growing condition now.
Even then the borers come to dig into the trunks of the trees, sometimes. Hopefully not today. I’m watching my little peach trees close. I pore over the spreadsheets and see what’s happening to the novels, wonder what to do next.