Wake to Sleep

 

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

 ~ from “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke

The Woodland GardenThe end of autumn is a season that stretches the mind in many directions. There is glory above in the treetop colors and in the remnants of summer beauty at the feet. Lingering green mixes with gold and red and brown as summer gives way to autumn. Even as the garden moves through entropy as it prepares to lapse into winter somnolence, the roots of every plant grow and deepen, a hidden font of life beneath the earth. Even as nature moves into winter’s sleep, its underground life, its dreaming, stretches downward as a balance of new growth. Waking and sleeping become one, as we humans balance on the threshold of old and new, the magic of seasonal change. Nothing expresses this multiverse of experience like Theodore Roethke’s evocative poem “The Waking” as set to music and sung so eloquently by Kurt Elling (scroll down to start the video of a live performance). Enjoy the images of October in my garden as you listen to this song of waking and sleeping. (All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

For more beautiful nature-based poetry and art, visit poet Simon Hilly’s blog.
For exquisite autumn (and any season!) images, visit Kerry’s Lightscapes Nature Photography blog.

Colors, Endless Colors

Autumn in leaves of gold,
springtime a thousand shades of green unfold to
summer with its joyous Joseph’s Coat of colors,
endless colors, endless colors.
~from the song “Winter” by Lynn Emberg Purse ©2009

gardenwoodsfogWPAutumn has decidedly arrived. Wild windy storms brought rain, hail, mist and fog this past week; the green trees have begun to don their fall coats while their leaves are drifting into the garden paths and beds. The cool damp weather has intensified the colors of the garden and triggered new blossoms from many of the plants. A fuchsia rose here, a peach salvia there – scent and color hang heavy in the air. Yesterday morning, a thick fog turned pearly with the morning light and the world was wrapped in a glowing cloud. Slightly disheveled at the end of the growing season, the garden was nevertheless graced for a moment with endless colors. (Click on any photo in the montage to see a bigger image; All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence. ~Thomas Hood, English poet

Outside the Gate

I believe the future is only the past again, entered through another gate. ~Pinero

Outside the gateThe first thing visitors encounter when they come to my garden is the open space outside of the garden gate where the wild things roam – deer, rabbits, groundhogs, raccoons, and wild turkeys. The gardens have to withstand creature browsing of all kinds, so sturdy shrubs, trees, ornamental grasses and various herbs and native plants dominate the plantings. A terra cotta birdbath anchors the beds of herbs and native plants and the fences are lined with tall shrubs and trees that shelter and protect the garden behind the gate. This year, a self-sown woodland tobacco plant (Nicotiana sylvestris) makes a tall bold statement.

"Zelda" A narrow path along the north side of the house leads to “Zelda”, a face planter with golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa) for hair, and then to a patio that used to be a fenced dog pen. This is a favorite summer dining and lounging spot, shaded by tall oaks and cooled by a steady breeze from the north.

Opening the gate draws visitors into the lush gardens within; the arbor surrounding it stands as a defining symbol for the liminal space between the outside and inside gardens. Part Two of Opening the Gate, here are a few images of the “outside” gardens as they appeared to my visitors a few weeks ago. (Click on any photo to see a larger image. All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

If you only knock loud enough and long enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.  ~Longfellow

Opening the Gate

Still round the corner there may wait
a new road or a secret gate.  ~Tolkein

gatefromdeckWPLast weekend, I opened my garden gate to a class from The Phipps, who came to see what a garden might look like in September. The weather was perfect, with mild temperatures, blue skies, and a soft breeze. Poodle pup Angel Eyes was a friendly greeter and my husband played guitar on the deck so that there was live music in the garden.

I love my garden every day and month of the year, and September is usually a lush and colorful display of flowers and foliage, so I readily agreed to open the gates to visitors close to the autumn equinox. Little did I know that, when I agreed to do this, the lower garden reconstruction would take place in late June instead of April and the wooden deck refinishing would be delayed until July. If you’ve lived through a home construction project, perhaps you understand the chaos and domino effect that even a small project creates. Nevertheless, I undertook additional tasks in the garden to make it visitor ready by September and though I was still tweaking things the morning of the tour, it made a good impression.

Still, when preparing for garden visitors, the gardener only sees what they haven’t done – our imagination sees what project we left unfinished, what flowers aren’t in bloom, what weeds we forgot to pull, instead of what is actually there. Fortunately, garden visitors only sees what is before them, unburdened by expectations, and hopefully will enjoy the experience. I took no photos of the garden until the next morning, when I could look at it with fresh eyes and let the camera tell the tale. There are so many photos that I’ll limit them to the lower garden this time, and show the remainder in my next post. I hope you enjoy your virtual trip through the September garden! (Click any photo to view a full size image; all photos @2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

 

I could happily lean on a gate all the livelong day, chatting to passers-by about the wind and the rain. I do a lot of gate-leaning while I am supposed to be gardening; instead of hoeing, I lean on the gate, stare at the vegetable beds and ponder. ~ Tom Hodgkinson (British author)

See (and listen to)  last year’s take on September in the garden at September Song, a song that runs through my head at this time of the year.

Nature’s Sarabande

Sarabande – A Baroque dance that is said to have come from the Saracens. It is in triple meter, and characteristically the second note of the measure is lengthened, giving the dance a stately, majestic flavor. ~ Artopium

 

Rudbeckia trilobaThe slow stately dance of summer moving into autumn has begun. Days are growing shorter and nights are growing cooler. Where ten new flowers opened in giddy excess each day in June and July, perhaps one begins flowering every few days in August and September. Change is slow but inexorable, a measured graceful prelude to the fiery finale of autumn’s peak. The soft pinks and lavenders of tall phlox keep the butterflies hovering in their midst; the shocking gold and black of Rudbeckias sing in a harmony of color to the fuzzy bees that crowd around them for late season sustenance. Cooler evenings have triggered rose bloom in every color from magenta to pink to apricot – blue Ageratum and Salvias play a cool counterpoint to the warm tones of rose buds and blossoms as they shift in the slanted sun rays to gather the light. Huge trusses of cream colored hydrangeas hang over the garden paths, richly scented and alive with the bumbling movement of pollinators drunk on their sweet largesse. Even as some plants begin to crumble and fall toward dormancy, others rise up with fresh foliage and flowers for a brief coda of glory before the end of the season.

The August GardenUnderneath the visual feast lies the ostinato drone of cicadas and the antiphonal call of tree frogs at night. A few days ago, after a long day in the hot and noisy city, I returned home and stepped outside into the garden – I suddenly felt as if I were Alice stepping through the looking glass. Heat that was oppressive in the city was merely a warm envelope of air in the garden and the early evening chorus of insects and frogs created a symphonic hall of pulsing sound that replaced the chaotic screech and scratch of traffic and construction. I stood entranced for a moment, watching the bats fly overhead in search of mosquitoes. I looked down to see the twinkle of fireflies rising from the garden floor, in search of a mate to commence the pas de deux of partnership. I had not just stepped into a garden, I had stepped into a magical world, a space where I was privileged to see and hear and smell the intoxication of nature in late summer, performing her multi-dimensional dance of life. Humbled and at peace, I began a slow sarabande through the garden.

But I’m not dancing alone . . . I’m dancing with the forest, dancing with the moon. Kenge, The Forest People (Turnbull)

Listen to Handel’s famous sarabande (trigger the video below) as you view a few garden photos from the August garden. Click on any image to start the show and join me in the “stately, majestic” dance. (All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. ~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

“Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances.” ~Maya Angelou

For a unique perspective on solo dance and the current phenomenon of recording and sharing one’s dance experience, visit Richard Coyne’s post on Mood and Movement (and dance).