Second Wind

Second wind – restored energy or strength; renewed ability to continue in an effort ~ The Free Online Dictionary

The rains came last night, the wind blew them in. When I went out at midnight with Angel, the air was still warm, pale clouds were threaded across the sky, and the insect chorus was heartily singing. I fell asleep by an open window, lulled by the unexpected sound of summer in October. But later I woke to the sound of the wind blowing the leaves and bowing the trees for hours, finally bringing a soft steady rain punctuated by acorns plunging from the trees onto the roof. It was a night to wake up often and listen, then fall asleep again with the wild sounds of the earth all around.

The garden lingers into fall, having gotten its second wind after the heat of summer. MIld days, alternating between warm slanted sunshine and entire days of rain and mist, have fostered a last round of bloom.  Even as copper oak and golden ash leaves drift into the garden beds, the bright faces of flowers blossom everywhere.  The purple asters and golden mums of the season have appeared right on cue, but roses, salvias and coreopsis are making a surprise grand finale appearance, along with the annual nicotiana and ageratum. The deep warm foliage of coleus and ornamental sweet potatoes have refreshed themselves after the scorching heat of August; their vibrant leaves trail and climb through the garden in a final burst of glory. Here and there a summer clematis flower pops up, an unexpected treat. The tall grasses are at their height of flowering, wands swaying in the slightest breeze, moving in tandem with the clouds overhead.

Bio-acoustician Bernie Krause coined the term geophony to describe the sounds of the rain, wind, thunder, surf – the music of the geosphere, as different from biophony, the sounds of the biosphere. Although the raucous arguments of crows and the chirping calls of chipmonks will continue year round, I can hear the shift from the biophony chorus to the predominance of the geophony orchestra. As the northern hemisphere swings into late autumn, the music of wind and weather is gradually taking the place of the creature choir that is the hallmark of spring and summer.

Here are some photos of the fall garden in its second wind. (click on any photo to enlarge it; that will take you into the gallery viewer – if you are on a mobile device, scroll up to see it)
Want to know more about soundscape ecology?
Whisper of the Wild – an article in the NY Times Magazine of sound ecologists recording the geophony of winter in Alaska
Wild Music – a traveling exhibition about the sounds and songs of life, including the work of many musicians and composers

51 thoughts on “Second Wind

  1. Purple Smoke Bush — had no idea that’s what it’s called! I see it around Vancouver. Creates such beautiful contrasts with other things in the garden. Dramatic; majestic; elegant; strong ~

    • Karyn, thanks for stopping by. Yes, purple smoke bush is a favorite of mine; the foliage is so gorgeous. It stays a deeper purple if kept cut back; otherwise it gets a bit rangy although it will bloom then with the puffy smoky flowers. I grow it for the foliage, though – a raindrop or a dewdrop on a leaf is a sight indeed!

  2. Lynn, I often drool over your garden, and no less as we march into Fall/Winter. I still have hibisci blooming like gangbusters. They are so incongruent against the magnificient fall colors of the massive trees that surround my house. Every morning I walk amongst my hibiscus flowers and ask them to give me one more day because I’m not ready to loose them yet. I do believe they are answering. . .or is that just the wind? 🙂 I hear we may get snow next week. Nooooooo!

    Thank you for such a lovely post. I am always ministered to by your prose and your glorious garden pictures (and your music). Peace. ET

    • Eleanor, I am always so happy to have you visit and to read your generous remarks. I know what you mean by the incongruity – I have half a dozen rose bushes blooming in pastel pinks and peaches, surrounded by the brilliant flame colors of the maples and oaks. We’ve avoided a few frosts but we are looking at snow next week too. In the meantime, I’m outside every free moment enjoying the last of the mild October weather.

  3. I love that distinction between biophony and geophony. Now I can look all learned-like and say sagely, ‘Of course, Fingal’s Cave is rich in geophonic elements.’ Or that my Bird-Call Sonata is based on biophonics?
    Love your pictures and words, both. Also enjoyed the samples of your music I visted YouTube to find.

    • Colonialist, thanks for visiting and commenting. Bird-call Sonata? That’s very cool – I didn’t see any audio clips of it on your blog, so let me know if you have it online for listening. Respighi included bird calls in “The Pines of Rome” so you are in good company. I am finding the biophony/geophony terminology very useful as I proceed to shape this new project – glad you liked it. And thank you for taking the time to listen to my music 🙂

      • It was a pleasure to listen to! I was thrilled to find your blog, because blogging composers of more ‘serious’ music seem quite rare. Particularly ones who are in to gardens (wife and I are qualified garden judges).
        Senior moment on the Sonata. It is actually a Nocturne! I now have it on the top track of my player. It is based on calls of South African forest birds.

  4. Through your blog post, I learned more about different varieties of flowers. 🙂 As for the 2nd wind, right now this hour, it has started to snow, white soft fluffies. It’s dark grey Saturday. For certain the flowers would be dead in our area by now.

  5. We focus so much on the colours of autumn we often neglect the sounds, thank you for the reminder ! And I hand’t come across the term geophony before
    A wonderful selection of photos to go with your words too – I’m struggling to chose a favourite but you have reminded me that I need to organise and plant some asters for next year !

    • That is such an astute observation, Claire, I never thought of it that way! I think asters are native the world over; certainly, the regional native types do so well here and I have several true natives growing in the woods and along the roadside. I love them; glad to hear you enjoyed the pics!

    • HI Jean, oh yes, it is right outside my door. We had a heavy frost last night in the neighborhood but the trees surrounding the garden took most of it, so it is still blooming against all expectations. And singing 🙂

  6. Geophony and biosphere, well I’ll be. And all this time I thought these sounds I hear were just for me. Kidding aside, For myself it is the geophonic sounds of windy storms long pass that have stayed with me. Notably one blizzard from 1976 that lasted almost a week. I think I will remember that various sound levels of that experience for the reminder of my life.

    Enjoyed this, the images especially the bowing grasses.

  7. A college friend of my daughter spent one Summer In Kodiak, Alaska recording the sounds to make sure the tourist were not too disruptive for the grizzly bears. I think he was greatly changed by all the quiet and listening.
    In the mean time, thank you of the words and images and wisdom about the changing of the seasons. I am inspired to listen for it.

    • I can only imagine what that summer was like for your daughter’s friend; what an intriguing job! I grew up on a small farm in the rural hills of western Pennsylvania; I still remember the quiet nights there and the sounds that did travel to my window. More often than not, I slept with my pillow on the windowsill so that I could fall asleep to the “night music” and the moonlight.

  8. Wow! You still have a lot of blooms left in your garden. Most of our flowers are finished. Even the asters and goldenrod are bowing to the weather. (Speaking of which, I was awake off and on listening to that rainfall, too. I love listening to the rain at night.) The mums are still doing well, and the winter pansies just started to bloom. Otherwise, flower season seems to be over here in the Bogs.
    Beautiful post, as always, in both words and images. 🙂

    • Thank you, Robin. I keep being amazed at how long the garden is lingering this year. Just when I think it will end, we get rain and some mild days and the roses rebloom along with some of the other perennials and the annuals perk up too. I’m not complaining 🙂 Our trees are just starting to turn here, mostly the ash along with the Virginia creeper climbing through the woods.

  9. Your words wonderfully captured the essence of fall – especially the sudden change in temp that we experienced with the front that moved through. Great garden pics, and thanks for sharing the resources.

  10. Beautifully expressed. The garden is certainly showing off! The “second wind” is especially appreciated when we know that winter is not far behind.

  11. Just beautiful and profoundly sensitive, Lynn. I’ve been enjoying the sounds of various winds, too, and clatter of falling leaves, but no rain… Tonight a freeze is due, so I harvested herbs and flowers for the pantry and final bouquets. One side of the house is lined with wind chimes and they’re telling me autumn has settled with certainty upon her throne. Your photos are beautiful; their loveliness matches the grace and poetry of your writing and I do thank you for the wonderful meditation!

    • Thank you Kitty. I love your phrase “autumn has settled with certainty upon her throne” – your prose always seems like poetry to me. We came near to a frost last week and I harvested most of the herbs – the house smelled delicious for days! Enjoy the transition to a new season 🙂

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