It’s October and once again, there is a cold blooded serial killer in our midst. His icy touch knows no boundaries. He chillingly strikes at night when no one can see him coming. He leaves everyone dazzled by his handiwork in the morning. His cold heart doesn’t discriminate and he ruthlessly goes after everything in his path with a frigid resolve.
His name is Jack Frost and he’s wanted for the icy death of what was left of the swampgarden.
The call came in Saturday morning from CSI-Brad out in the hallway.
“Uh Dad, did it snow last night ?”
“No. It was supposed to get cold but there was no snow in the forecast. Why ?”
“Everything is white outside.”
Oh no, I thought to myself. The frost came early. I was supposed to have one more day to get everything out the swampgarden. I rolled out of bed and walked to the window. Even without my glasses I could see that that ground was white in the shadows. The sun, just starting to peek over the eastern trees made the western corners of the yard sparkle. I could see frost painted heavily on my pepper patch and my heart sunk. Even though I knew that this day would come, you always felt like you could somehow stop it.
“Come on Brad. Go get the rest of the team,” I said “We have work to do.”
CSI-Caty and CSI-Amity joined us as we rolled out to the crime scene with our equipment in hand. We had all been to crime scenes like this before but that didn’t mean that it never didn’t hurt. It was particularly cruel in late April when Jack Frost would strike before the young plants had a chance to grow but here at the end of the growing season, you want to see your old friends have a chance to go with dignity. Rather than have an icy dagger of death freeze their veins & wilt their leaves.
By the time we got out to the swampgarden, the frost had begun to melt away so the crime scene was wet mess. We cordoned off the area and started to check the scene for survivors. The beets & the peas were both still alive and a small head of purple cabbage was found under a wilted leaf of Rainbow Chard. The Rainbow Chard had gone down hard but it was not completely lost so the surviving stalks were harvested while the damaged stalks were tossed outside the garden to be eaten by the roving packs of scavenging deer that routinely infiltrate our yard. If there had been any tomatoes that were going to turn red, they were a ghastly green now. Jack’s real carnage was reserved for the pepper patch.
I approached the garden with fear & trepidation. Knowing what I was going to see made the scene no less brutal. Jack had left destruction in his wake. The light green Caribbean Red Hot’s would never turn red. The dark green habaneros would never turn a sunny orange. The yellow tabasco peppers would never be held up to a “baton rouge” for ripeness. The Jalapenos were ice cold in your hand and all of the peppers were squishy to the touch. The carnage made me turn away as a tear tried to form in my eye. The other CSI’s were processing the evidence too.
“Eww Daddy, look at this one.”
“Will it still be hot even though it’s cold ?”
“Can we throw these at the deer ?”
We slowly pulled all of the plants up by the roots and loaded them into the wagon. There was no need to conduct an autopsy. We all knew how these plants died and who was responsible. We had kept him from killing the blueberries & raspberries in the spring but there was nothing we could do to stop his chilling touch this time. Jack Frost was already gone and warmer weather was coming in on the wings of a wave of Robins that were flying south for the winter.
The file back in the office on Jack Frost is thick and his crimes against gardens all over the world are well known. One day he’ll slip up and we’ll catch him but I think Al Gore is going to have to leave his mansion door open first for that to happen. Until then, watch the forecasts for those cold nights ahead. If you don’t, Jack Frost will watch them for you.