The morning glories have died. Their stems and leaves are wilted and limp this morning. The bright green of those heart-shaped leaves is a mass of forest green, nearly a rich black soil--of which they will now become.
It was not a hard freeze, but it was another 30 degree night. At 11pm I almost went outside to cover them, as I did two weeks ago, but I was tired. I wanted to give in to my body after a long day, a long week. I wanted sleep. It was time to let go.
I move my hand into the damp silk of foliage, no longer careful like I was yesterday when hidden bumble bees would emerge like smoke from the long throats of blooms. In the wind I let one leaf rest on the back of my hand until it lays flat. It is like my grandmother's hand. Clammy, limp, tired, and ready to say something final we don't need to say--the touch is a thousand words, a synapse that fires from neuron to neuron and passes on the memory. And the memory of memories.
Each spring it takes me longer than I'd expect to start morning glories. I plant unique varities after soaking the seeds overnight. I wait for 14 days. Nothing. I soak and plant again. I wait 14 days. A leaf, like a mushroom, here and there. I wait for the vines to wake slowly, as they always do, a millimeter a day. Then an inch. Then one day a foot or three. Which plant will it be?
But the only morning glories that bloom are self-seeded 'Grandpa Ott,' the same dark purple as last year. No chocolate or white, no blue. But they come. The vines come like an olfactory sense and cover the deck railing, then hide the deck, the window, shade a part of the wall. Butterflies pupate in the deep, thick shadows. Tree frogs shelter from afternoon sun. A preying mantis feasts on a skipper, its body parallel to a thin, curled shoot diving out into the negative space of air and sky.
The morning glories have died. The birch leaves are down. The amsonia is sunlight unto itself. The shadows of cedars cover half the garden. The asters are a week gone. Nothing is left, yet everything is here, still, dug in and waiting. Like the purple morning glory seeds I planted only once, years ago, and that will come again in May. I'll wait. I give myself to the winter now so that I might earn the spring and come into the balance of seasons, and if I'm lucky, myself. I remember my mother's morning glories. She remembers her grandmother's. And so the morning glories remember us all.