Endings and Beginnings


I awoke early last Monday morning, feeling as if I were on the “champagne stage” of the Tour de France, where the victorious pedal into Paris for the last leg of a long race while sipping champagne. I had just finished composing my saxophone concerto the night before; all that was left to do was a little tweaking and formatting. Angel and I took a walk at dawn, witnessing a spectacular sunrise through storm clouds that were passing away, an apt visual metaphor for the intense few months I had spent writing this piece. I was on the champagne stage now – just a few more hours of studio time and I would indulge in a glass of prosecco at the end of the day.

Hydrangea 'Limelight'

The world changed while I was preoccupied in my studio. I vaguely remember seeing the garden when I came out to visit for an hour or two each day, but my head was full of music and I wasn’t really paying close attention.  Now that I’ve had a week to reorient myself, I’m a bit taken aback. I feel as if I’ve gone through a magical revolving door from the gaudy splendor of the July garden to the mellow pace of August. A few daylily blooms persist but the color banner is carried forward by the large blowsy flowers of PeeGee Hydrangeas, Rose of Sharon, tall stands of garden phlox, the bright daisy forms of Echinacea and Rudbeckia, and the fresh rebloom of roses.

It is now a more relaxed garden, requiring a relaxed butterflyWPattitude towards the insect damaged leaves of blooming plants and a tolerance for the gradual disintegration of carefully crafted color combinations. The quiet of dusk and dawn have been filled with a raucous chorus of cicadas by day and the bold throbbing songs of tree frogs by night. Flocks of butterflies cover the Buddleia (butterfly bush) by the deck and hummingbirds in two’s and three’s feed on the Salvias nearby.

July has ended, August has begun and their sights and sounds are distinctly different. It has taken me a week to begin writing in words instead of notes, and of raising the camera to my eye once again.  Here are a few portraits of the garden in August. Enjoy, and perhaps join me in a glass of champagne to celebrate the beauty of endings and beginnings.

When you’re young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the seasons. As you grow older you learn to like the in-between times, the months that can’t make up their minds. Perhaps it’s a way of admitting that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again. ― Julian BarnesFlaubert’s Parrot (courtesy of Good Reads)

53 thoughts on “Endings and Beginnings

  1. Such an exciting time! I know the feeling of emerging from music and blinking in some bewilderment at the daylight. Waiting for the performance can be fraught, too. Do you find that you expect the performers to reproduce exactly what was in your mind when you wrote it – which never quite comes out that way?

    • “the feeling of emerging from music and blinking in some bewilderment at the daylight.” SO perfectly expressed, Colonialist! Well, in answer to your question, the composer’s ideal is not always met in the performance; however, even the first reading this past Friday met the promise of two of the movements perfectly and the other two movements show great promise. My experience is that the more perfectly the composer notates their intention, the greater the probability that the inner vision will be realized. That said, a friend once told my composer husband “the first performance may be the most exciting one, even if it is not the most perfect one.” 🙂

  2. There is something very magical about being absorbed by creative work over a long period of time, so much that you forget time and place. But when you get out on the other side it’s such a good feeling of relief and excitement. And not really understanding that the work is actually done. Congratulations with the completion of the saxophone concerto! I know it’s already some time ago, but I hope you enjoyed the “champagne stage”. By the way you have a lovely garden, magically captured in these images.

    • Thanks, Otto, it sounds as if you have gone through that process more than once. Yes, I did enjoy the champagne stage; I’ve got another bottle put aside for the premiere of the piece. The piece is complete and goes into rehearsal this week – can’t wait to hear the orchestra work with it. Glad you enjoyed the garden photos – I love this time of year, still lots of bloom and color and sunshine but a little less work.

  3. Lynn: So lovely. . .and you’ve given me a perspective on things coming to an end and being appreciated for it. I’ve yet to be able to be still enough to just take in the garden at its own pace and gifting. I’ll ignore the bug-damaged leaves and envelop the beauty that is still left–which is still very plentiful. So happy to read that you’ve finished your new composition. I’m sure it is just magnificent. Cheers!

    • Eleanor, you must be having a very busy retirement! I’m finding my sabbatical slipping by too quickly, so I have the opposite problem – I need to sit less and do more 🙂
      Rehearsals start this Friday for my piece, I’m very excited to see it begin the journey towards performance.

  4. You certainly have a lot more going on in your garden than I do in mine – except for bug eaten leaves, I suppose!
    I echo Jean’s comments about the floods here, though from a bit different perspective because we lost our cabin to the flood. Actually, all 305 homes were lost, but when I visited the wreckage a few weeks ago, all the flowers that had been planted throughout the neighbourhood were happily blooming. It was quite remarkable!

    • Margie, so great to have you visit. I have been following your posts on the flood; unbelievable, really. We are no strangers to floods here in western Pennsylvania, but your experience went far beyond what we have seen here in recent years. How amazing that the flowers bloomed – something to consider 🙂 We continue to have savage rainstorms and thunderstorms. Yesterday’s violent storms brought several inches of rain and flooding to some of our local areas. What I see as a blessing to the garden is someone else’s flood. And so it goes.

  5. It’s been a strange summer where we are because of the late June flood which made it more difficult for some folks to enjoy summer until much later this season. Now, we’re trying to soak in the last summery weeks.

    The coolness of fall, comes to us sooner since we are further north. Best wishes for a rich, warm autumn.

    • Thank you, Bill. I have to tell you, I love your Gravatar! Growing up on an organic farm in the 60’s, we dubbed our place “Emberg Acres” after the “Green Acres” show at the time. Seems an entirely appropriate photo representation for an organic gardener 🙂

  6. What a marvelous post!! I’ve been feeling a bit of doom and gloom since autumn’s on its way, despite the fact that it is among the most incandescent of the seasons. You’re exactly right that the changing of the color banner is something quite wonderful and worth celebrating. Instead of working ceaselessly to improve our gardens to live up to the same splendor of late spring and mid-summer we should just sit down and take it in. And, if you’re in my garden, do some weeding 😀

    • Thanks, Jenny. I like your idea of not trying to keep the garden at the same level as prior seasons; I hadn’t thought of it in exactly that way but I think you are so right. If it’s any consolation, I’ve got lots of weeding to do too 🙂

  7. This is delightful. I love hearing your thoughts about gardening. This takes me back to when I had gardens all around my house (upstate NY), and August was, like you say, a time for relaxing. Things would tangle together in the most wonderful ways, and I would stop trying to contain the pests, and weeds would often have reached a balanced state – more coexistence than threat. Hmm, I wonder how that treaty between weeds & flowers might be put into music? And the butterflies at the Buddleia were a constant delight, and sometimes there were nicotiana to scent the evening air…. Congratulations on completing another piece.

  8. Great congratulations and hugs, Lynn, your creativity seems always to find levels and forms of expressions that suit the energy and “is-ness” surrounding you. I love that you create music, gardens, and photography with such mastery and sensitivity towards “what’s in the frame” and how the colors and textures compliment and contrast: such a gift you are to our world. Thank you, and hooray for your dedication and willingness to share.

    • Ah Kitty, you always make me want to reach through cyberspace and give you a big hug! Thank you for your kind words; it really is all of the same piece for me, whether it is the garden, music, or visuals. I feel fortunate that I have a forum to express the whole gamut and have people respond to my efforts in such gracious and encouraging ways 🙂

  9. There’s nothing better for an artist – or a gardener – than standing looking on with the revelation of “I made that!” Congratulations on both fronts!

  10. Congratulations on completing the concerto, Lynn!

    I can identify with the notion of being absorbed so deeply with something, for so long, that when it’s all said and done it feels as though you’ve awakened from a Rip Van Winkle-like slumber. It’s a bit surreal.

    • Thank you, Kerry; it was an intense experience. You are right, it is a bit surreal. It has taken me a week to adjust and I’m still carrying a lot of the music around in the back of my mind while I seem to be doing other things. It probably won’t go away until the premier concert makes it public 🙂

      • I should clarify that I have NO idea what it’s like to compose serious music. 🙂 My “I can identify” statement stems from the experience of writing my Master’s thesis (which I initially wrote out longhand; don’t ask :)).

        How long until the premiere?

      • Oh, I assumed you meant working on a large photo project, Kerry! Master’s thesis, whew! – that one took me 6 months. The premiere is on October 6, just 7 weeks away. It will be on the first performance of the season for our university orchestra (GREAT ensemble) and featuring a faculty member/world reknowned classical saxophonist. I’m very lucky to have such great musicians to write for; I’m hoping for a great recording too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.