“It’s a good day for chili,” I thought to myself as I climbed out of bed this morning. Usually I don’t start craving chili until the leaves fall - sometime around mid to late October - and they haven’t fallen yet. But I was truly craving chili.
Those who know me know that I claim no cooking fame. I don’t even enjoy cooking very much, but I do create a great pot of chili. Usually. There was the time I accidentally dumped a can of pork and beans into my chili pot. That created a lot of yucks around the dinner table, but it was only that one time and was soon forgotten. So today was my day for chili.
Chili making doesn’t start till afternoon, and I was in no particular hurry anyway. The day was mine to do with as I chose, and about the only thing I chose to do was make chili.
We have been in a dreadful drought this summer here in western Kentucky; at the moment we are in a D-2 stage, which is defined as severe. It’s been this way since the first week of June when the last significant rain fell. If my rain catcher is right, we’ve had only 4 inches since then.
Our bloom season was short lived, my gardens were crispy, crunchy by late July, and I never saw another bloom in my garden until August 29th. That was the day we got two and a half inches of rain and some nearly dead morning glories decided to show their lovely faces soon after.
Last week, we had another fast inch of rain. It came beating down early one morning, bringing with it the loss of electrical power for an hour. It was all dry and gone by afternoon and I didn’t think much about it. I’d already given up on fall color; my leaves were drying right on the branches, and their only color was grayish brown. Outside scenes reminded me of old sepia toned photographs.
While my chili was simmering today, I thought I might go outside and sit for awhile in the sunlight. I have the habit of carrying my camera with me when I step outside for a walk around my garden. I haven’t taken many pictures this year, because browns and grays are not my favorite colors but for some reason, I grabbed my camera today as I headed out the front door.
It was late, the sun was noticeably settling in the west and fading fast. My mind was on my simmering chili as I walked around to the back of my house. I heard the whisper of dried leaves falling in the gentle breeze. The sun was warm on my face. I turned the corner to take a look at my rose garden and I could not believe what I saw. My roses were blooming! Maybe a full dozen of them, dancing in the sunlight, swaying in the breeze and blooming like there was no tomorrow!
My roses bloomed very little all summer; I truly thought I’d lost them. But today when I looked around the back corner, there they were. And as I looked around, I also looked up. The leaves on the trees were suddenly brilliant in the sunlight! Down near the ground one tiny morning glory was blooming where a seed must have fallen.
It was a magic day! If I hadn’t been waiting for my chili, I would have missed it. It’s hard to believe the number of blooms on the roses. I had been in my rose garden only a week ago, clipping dried buds, dried leaves, mourning their loss. There were no blooms then.
And the leaves on the trees, only last week they were drab, gray-green, brown. I thought we would have no color this fall. I was so wrong. It’s amazing to me how plants can take one inch of rain and bring themselves right back to life. I know it won’t last long, but the magic was here today and I look at it as a promise.
You see, I thought I’d lost so much to the drought. I didn’t see all my daylilies bloom this year and I didn’t see many roses all summer long. I had almost given up on gardening until my chili day brought its magic.
I know we are still in a severe drought, and we will no doubt soon have a sudden freeze that turns my roses brown. It is the beginning of November after all. The nights are chilly and there is the scent of drying leaves all around me. But just for this one afternoon, I could smell the roses.
Now I’m sitting here enjoying my bowl of steaming chili, and I’m dreaming of roses that have promised to grow and bloom again in the spring. I will not soon forget the magic of this chili day.