Frost’s lesson plan: on decisiveness

The frost last week was decisive. In one night our dahlia, scarlet runner, nasturtium, cosmos, marigold, sunflower, and tomato plants were killed. Meandering fall became decisively winter or deep fall. There were no questions left to ask about whether or not we should bed down the garden for winter and pull out our tubers. The decision was made and there was work to be done.

Decisiveness and decision-making seem to be the main themes of my life right now. I decisively resigned for my job of the last 10 years and will finish work there at the end of the month. I closed a door, and am now trusting that other doors will open along other paths.

I also decided to go for an investigative medical procedure that I was avoiding. I waffled and debated and agonized about it, but when I finally got still enough to sit with my thoughts, I was guided to look up the word “decide”. Decide has “cide” as its suffix, like insecticide, germicide, fungicide. To decide means to settle a dispute, make a decision, and literally cut off… to determine by killing off choices.

I appreciated frost’s lesson in decisiveness. 

After the frost, our warm sunny fall days returned again. It has been energizing to rip out old plants and create massive piles of compost—little havens of rotting organic matter to plant over next spring. 

I am so awed by the sincere abundance of the plants—the sheer size of a single dahlia plant with its branching stems and leaves yielding 20 blooms per week, the single stalk of sunflower producing a 40-headed plant (one seed: a miracle!), the single squash seed growing into a small acreage of leaves and spines and glorious giant fruit in my front yard.

This fall is the savasana of gardening—the death of the practice, putting it to bed, and acknowledging and anticipating death as an integral part of living.

It’s a good time to rest as part of this cycle of rebirth and renewal. There’s something exciting about this season, too—being forced into dormancy and dreaming as the summer days have been pruned away.

Neurologist, poet and author Debashish Mridha says it perfectly:

“Despite the heart numbing frost, my soul is blooming like spring.”