I’ve gardened in the rain and cold until my fingers were numb. I’ve gardened at dusk till feasting mosquitoes drove me indoors. I’ve even gardened in the mid-day heat, keeping the tormenting sun at bay with hats and sunscreens and moveable umbrellas. But I’ve never gardened after dark.
“Dark” is subjective of course. It’s that time of day when I reluctantly turn my garden over to the other side. If I’m outside too late, Dark reveals opossums, meandering along the fence. Frankly, they give me the creeps. I once encountered one on my pathway late at night, walking straight for me. I froze in place, but it ignored me and meandered on.
Raccoons also visit the yard, playing in the fountain and on one occasion, tapping on the cat door. The rats don’t always wait for Dark. They rustle around in the orange tree reminding me to pack up my tools and head on in. Dark is just around the corner.
Spiders, a gardeners friend, have cousins that prefer to wait for Dark. They live under the BBQ and below the eaves. They don’t make a sound, adding to the creepiness factor, but I know they’re there.
I’ve found myself racing the setting sun, trying to pull one more weed before night falls, trying to prune one last vine. I become a little obsessed with the work at hand and I’m reluctant to stop. In the summer months it’s usually too hot to garden by day. My fair skin prefers the damp mists of Avalon to the sunny climate of San Jose. Since I live in the suburbs and not a mystical novel I’m forced to make do. So I race that setting sun while acknowledging the inevitable. My garden is harmless by day, but like the closet of my youth, with the flip of the light switch, all bets are off.