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  • Late October, nearly November, and the frosts have come. Only a few asters, a burnet, and some hidden annuals have made it through, shaded my trees or shrubs, or in the open saved by a light breeze. Near the back of the garden, in a dark space, I tossed seeds from packets of annuals I received free in the mail. There were some chocolate sunflowers, gaudy orange cosmos I knew the insects would like, and pink cosmos from years ago, a packet I found buried in a closet. I didn’t know if any would grow.

    It took them a while to get started, and they never made it past two feet, the three or so stalks I saw. Too little sunlight, I figured, beside a tall red cedar. But this space stayed warm into autumn, and looking out from the dining room window the garden was already brown—except for that beacon of soft pink, a Pepto Bismal speck in the corner. I rushed out with my jacket on, and the unfurled cosmo—with swiss cheese holes torn in its petals—had a bumble bee at its center. Below the bloom was another beginning to open, but neither would make it through the night.

    The next day, after much deliberation, fighting my instincts and loathsome attitude toward most annuals, I headed out with pot and spade and dug up the cosmo. I put in the back of the garage hoping it might survive winter, that we both might. In spring I’ll bring it back out, harden it off, and dig it into the same place—both of us grounded in the familiarity of that soil.
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