Last spring, I made it clear that by not knowing how to garden, I had thwarted my ambitions to grow indoors. Readers of The Morning have responded to my SOS with wisdom (“Ignore them”), advice (“Water your plants according to their needs, not your schedule”), philosophy (“Fir trees”) intelligent and also have a strong sense of reciprocity”) and detailed prescriptions for growing success (“First, childless,” advises a committed plant parent).
Now, five months later, the living room is lush, with more hardy specimens able to withstand southern exposure. The hygrometer has eliminated the guesswork of watering. But it’s autumn, and the light is changing. As Margaret Roach writes in her gardening column this week, “The trees are drooping, and the leaves are falling; the garden is letting go.”
“Again with this?” I groaned at the lynx. (“Talk to them!” Many readers advised.) The trees giggled and shook their heads. No, they don’t. They are plants! They sat there on their perfectly tested ground. They complied. “The sun won’t set later than 6 p.m. in NYC until March 12, 2023,” the New York Metro Weather Twitter account reminded me this week. I have reminded the factory. They took it better than I did.
The proof is the same every year: earlier sunsets, cooler mornings, the smell of wood smoke. Winter is coming. This fall-winter is the third time since the pandemic began. What will this season bring?
This weekend, I went to see the foliage, even though the leaves were still there to peek. I’m heeding the advice of my colleague Erik Vance, who wrote about seasonal melancholy recently: “Somewhere in the brittle leaves, cracked fire, and chilly air, you can find a sense of could happen, even with electricity.”
I will return to my makeshift home, optimistic that improving my gardening hygiene will help plants thrive through the dark months. There are bright spots if you look for them. For example, on Sunday, a perennial blooms late: “The White Lotus” returns for a second season.
Before you go: We turn the clocks back next weekend. How do you adjust to the end of daylight saving time? Send me your best tips, along with your full name and location, and I’ll share some tips in next Saturday’s newsletter.
WEEK IN CULTURE
🍿 “Barbarian” (End immediately): It’s the last weekend of October and you have to watch something vaguely Halloween-y. These are the rules, I didn’t make them. It doesn’t even have to be scary — try “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on Apple TV+ — but it has to be season-appropriate. That being said, if you do wanted something scary, tense and raw, one of this year’s hit horror movies is showing on HBO Max. The film is about a woman who arrives at her Detroit Airbnb rental and discovers that someone has checked in (suggesting discordant piano notes).
📚 “Friends, Lovers and Horrors” (Tuesday): As Elisabeth Egan wrote in her excellent profile of “Friends” star Matthew Perry, “at 49 years old, he spent more than half of his life in treatment centers or facilities. live in peace.” It’s not just a celebrity memoir. It is the story of a man struggling with a severe addiction. As Egan told me, “I was hoping the book would be funny – and it is, in many places – but for the most part it was just plain truth.”
A pot of rice and beans
Halloween is on a Monday, which means it’s the weekend to pluck out your vampire fangs and cat ears. But before you head into that dark and potentially creepy night, you might want to grab a bite to eat. I would recommend Ali Slagle’s adaptable, easy-to-use rice and beans. You can follow the exact recipe and end up with a delicious meal, dipped in hot sauce if you like it spicy. Or check out the recipe notes for other ideas to spruce it up. Garlic, sweet pepper, ketchup, salsa, sausage, pastry, coconut milk, lime juice: Make rice and beans as simple or as sophisticated as you like. Either way, they’ll prepare you for all the festivities on your schedule, whether it’s running around parties or staying home and watching scary movies on the couch.
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What do you get? 700,000 dollars: a Colonial Renaissance in Columbus, Ohio; an 1870 Victorian in Buffalo; or a mid-medieval modern house in Golden Valley, Minn.
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Examine the scythe
Neither a lawn mower nor a cord cutter, a scythe cannot be an effective way to cut overgrown grass and weeds into orderly rows – great for fall clean-up on areas so large that lawn mowers do not appear often in the summer. The scythe is especially good for areas that are too difficult for a lawn mower, because the grass is too thick, or because the ground is too uneven. And compared to wire clippers, the scythe is quieter and less messy. – Doug Mahoney
GAME OF THE WEEK
Philadelphia Phillies vs Houston Astros, World Series: Perhaps the best description of this game comes from the Wall Street Journal headline: “Consistency versus Chaos.” On the consistent side are the Astros, who have attended the World Series four times in six years. They stormed through the season, winning 106 games and going undefeated in the first two playoffs. Phillies are chaotic people. They barely made it to the knockout stages – third in their league – but won the National League Championship with a thrilling home game. Bettors say the Astros have the upper hand, but the Phillies have shown they are comfortable playing the underdog. Tonight 8 Eastern on Fox.