Albert Camus nearly got it right when he wrote: “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is in flower.” The French philosopher didn’t clutter a good line with what really blossoms in autumn for many gardeners. In practical terms, with cooler temperatures, the weeds wind down.
This year, in Kentucky, just when we were relieved of day-after-day October temperatures well above normal, the ping-pong competition heated up.
No telling what the absurdist-minded Camus might have thought of ping-pong. That may have been a more fitting subject for his colleague Samuel Beckett.
My neighbor Mac Reid and I play a couple of games each week in my Salvisa barn, as long as it’s not freezing cold. From the first white blooming snowdrops in February until the last weeping willow drops its leaves in November, we are battling for ping-pong dominion in north Mercer County.
After another season of trash talking one another from opposite ends of the ping-pong table, we decided to lure new talent to the barn.
An idea was hatched. Rose and I would host the 1st Knox Lane Invitational Ping-Pong Tournament. The winner would be awarded the not-quite-yet prestigious Millwood Cup—a mothballed trophy (once used by Mac for chess matches with his son) now re-commissioned for ping-pong.
We would celebrate friendships.
Three weeks prior, walnuts the size of baseballs, covered in green, leathery husks, started pounding the ground. Hedge apples were scattered around—the size of softballs or bigger.
Danger! Avoid walking near the bombing zones of either.
Goldenrods had gone by. Aromatic asters and morning glories could wait no longer for Camus.
Two young Sassafras put on a show in orange and red. I was proud they had come this far. I had started the pair from seeds seven or eight years ago. They still have not flowered. I’m hoping at least one of them will be a seed-bearing female. I rarely see the blueberry-colored, small fruit in gardens or in the wild.
Ping-pong players, and a few non-players, came to Knox Lane last Sunday.
Friends sat on lawn chairs and picnic tables. They ate, they drank; they talked and laughed.
It was a colorful fall afternoon.
Good enough for Albert Camus.