I let the garden go this year. I love vegetables, but I don't enjoy gardening, and my neighbor is a farmer, and the yard is overrun with squirrels and rabbits anyway, so I've decided to leave the tomato growing to the experts and spend my time doing other things. It's a four-minute walk to the market from my front door anyway, so why fight it? What I probably should do with what used to be the garden is to move the (very few remaining) plants I want to keep, and till up the rest, and plant some grass seed. [Ugh, grass. This fascination with your LAWN. Don't get me started. I wish I could have a big truck come and dump gravel over the whole thing. Anyway.] If I'd done that when I should have, though, the goldenrod wouldn't have had a chance. I know, goldenrod grows in every ditch at every roadside in America, and there's no shortage of it, but it was kind of nice watching it take off here, in what used to be my garden. The stalks are towering. They are, I'm not exaggerating, eight feet tall.
They glow in the sunlight. They are sneezy little handfuls of pollen, to be sure, but they are the most succulent lemony-lime yellow.
I waited until they looked like this--partly open, but not fully-blown, all the way open. Just a couple of the florets had popped, and the rest were still loosely budded. This is when I love goldenrod, before it blows all the way open and looks like powdered mustard. Right now, it looks delicate but tough, like something from the prairie. The goldenrod patch is a tremendous forest, with one little angel wig on top of each tree. I clipped them into a pot, a few handfuls at a time, as they were ready, and boiled them in my kitchen, in my dedicated dyepot.
This is my big 12-quart dyepot, filled about 2/3 full with flower heads. I covered the flowers with water, soaked them overnight, and then boiled it all for an hour the next day. We tried in vain to decipher the smell. Doc and I could not decide whether it stank like holy hell, or whether it smelled vaguely of asparagus, which we love. It is not a food smell, at all, but something about it is not terrible. It smells like baby powder and feet. Or carrots sauteing in butter and old garbage. Maybe I've lived in the country too long. Get me to the Chanel No. 5, stat! Anyway, after an hour of smell-related light comedy, I removed the plant material and Gently added two skeins of mordanted yarn (I used Paton's Roving in "Aran") simmering it gently for about 30 minutes. I rinsed the skeins until the water ran clear, and then hung them to dry. In a week's time, I had this:
Summer, captured. That'll be a sweater. Not gray, not gray at all.