A killing frost.
A KILLING FROST We are the last in this cold air to walk in the garden. Ozone strikes at every corner, to sting, hissing at the summers of once-were, bleaching them zinc white, until what was permanent--petals thick with dye, with the gum and honey from bees-dies back to dirt. Other perspectives might have been different. The apple tree, leaning, flames grenadine. The beeches look ochre. What is left of the oaks is chinese orange, while the butterfly weed, called cadmium yellow, is actually orange. Unperturbed the helianthus remain marigold. These are flowers, believe me. We know them by their impermanence and a Herculean capacity to dye. The cobalt platycodon grow where the dog walked. Last year myosotis stained the hills forget-me-not blue. It was a viridian Spring: Hemlocks rose as though cypress, dyer's broom bloomed among the acacia, and no frost lapped at the grass-green grass, until rain changed the series, pouring gray into the ground, into the dove gray fields for the months ahead: Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4, each a grizzled square of pearls on paper, when out-of-doors, wear the bark of ash trunks 200 years old. Now the brief Prussian evening is jet ink washing my lake pale geraniums. In the lampblack no one sees the batwings. In the livid light they startle no one with their weeping that winter has set. During this period, which the radio calls seasonal, many zinnias will die. Anne Babson Carter