Streetcleaners scrubbed downtown Louisville this week. No more sodden leaves.

Christmas wreaths of evergreens, pinecones and red bows suggested hope; leftover curbside planters suggested otherwise.

Our garden is betwixt and between—neither hopeful nor hopeless. It is either a forlorn faux prairie, or else the health department never got around to citing us earlier for being a—beg your pardon—weedy mess.

Left alone for another few months our weedy mess may provide habitat for a few rabbits that could get swept away by chicken hawks. Tattered old stems will be cut down and left where they fall before the first daffodil blooms in March.

These frozen herbaceous, potted heaps were well intended in spring for every imaginable goodness. They are wasted now and need to be dug up and tossed. Every feel-good effect from the past growing season has faded to mush.

Don’t move the mess to the compost pile. That’s unnecessary work. Spread the  potted plants and potting soil like fairy dust on the mulch ring of a newly planted tree.

Or I will be a griping grinch.


Sleigh bells ring. Are you listening?

I am going to make my first Christmas wreath this afternoon.

If that fails—and it could—I will reprise my seasonal role as the family soup elf and Christmas laughingstock.

I am asking Santa for a can’t-miss chestnut soup recipe.