coleus w stick citycolor

Late summer is a hectic time for gardening and dyeing. The image above is a photograph I took in October 2005. The indigo-stained dowel is what I stir my indigo vats with twice a day. Seeing it lying next to the ripe squash reminds me of the brevity of Minnesota’s growing season. Labor Day is a bitter-sweet time that signals the end of summer and warmth. The productivity of the garden declines, everything seems to ripen at once and the fermentation that reduces my indigo vats becomes less active. There are always lengths of cloth left waiting to be dipped next summer because there is never enough time to carry out my plans. No matter how warm the days are, the first or second week of September brings cool nights that interfere with the garden and the vats. The vats slow down while I quicken my pace working to dye a few more pieces and process the bounty from the garden. Oh, how I long for a thirty-six hour day!

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