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).


26 thoughts on “Nature’s Sarabande

  1. I loved the Rose of Sharon photo. Music is rich, summers’ fullest blooms. In Calgary we just had a freak wet snow dump 4 days ago which damaged 2,000 trees across the city.

  2. You describe the release of returning to one’s garden so well, and really it’s a privilege, isn’t it? I’m happy to enjoy it with you. Driving through northeastern suburban and country roads, I used to think of this time as the gold and purple time – the goldenrods and asters that pop up and grace roadsides, ironweed and wild Rudbeckia if I was lucky – and I was sometimes – and others I can’t think of now. It’s different here, but I do enjoy the way grasses on the roadsides, having been through a summer drought, bleach out into this really shiny gold in the sun. Roadsides are my gardens! (That’s one cool Echinacea you have there!)

    • Lynn, having driven through the northeast in the fall, I know exactly what you mean. I have always thought of it as the “royal season” filled with the purple and gold of native asters and goldenrod. In our nearby county park, ironweed, Joe Pye weed and wild rudbeckias abound, which I enjoy since most won’t thrive in my garden. Fortunately, I have three different goldenrods in my garden which are just starting to bloom. I love this time of year 🙂

      Enjoy your roadside gardens – they are nature’s prettiest marvel!

  3. Great post. Thanks so much. This is the best description of coming home to the garden I’ve read lately, if not ever. I love the music references. The ostinato drone of cicadas, indeed! Thanks again! 🙂

    • Ah, thanks Jim. Yes, coming home to the garden – sounds like a song, doesn’t it? I just came home today after a very long day of teaching in windowless classrooms and found it difficult to re-enter a building. Thanks for stopping by and sharing by empathy – I imagine your beautiful place is equally satisfying to the soul 🙂

  4. Such a beautiful post, Lynn. Wonderful good. Thank you. 🙂

    Our season is far ahead of yours, I think. The goldenrod is dominating the meadows now. There were one or two blooming last week. This morning I woke up to find the rest had decided to follow suit. Morning Glories are at their peak now, too, as the sunflowers finish their season.

    • Robin, the goldenrods are filling up with buds but no bloom so far. I would imagine we are about 2 weeks behind you, plus the being on the water probably moderates your temperatures and extends the growing season. We just had a hot dry week (lovely!) and now are back to days of rain. Good for growing but not for working in the garden. Still, I can stop watering 🙂

  5. Marvelous post, Lynn. The primary focus of the comments has been on the music–and understandably so. But I’m going to take a moment to draw attention to the role played by the imagery (particularly the photo including the hummingbird) in this symphony of the senses.

    • Kerry, thank you – a compliment from you on my photography is always to be treasured! That sweet little hummingbird visits the deck every morning and evening because of the salvias and other nectar sources. She and I often meet eye to eye but I rarely have my camera with me – I got lucky that morning and she seems to accept my presence without alarm.

  6. wowza woman you know how to write, that’s for sure. The way you put words together is much like the way a rose slowly opens her petals, small little glimpses of beauty one upon another. Very nice ways to describe the leaving of one season into the unavoidable feel of the next one…
    Thank you so much for your encouraging words on my blog,
    peace n abundance,

    • CheyAnne, that is possibly one of the nicest (and most poetic) comments I’ve ever received on this blog! Thanks for stopping by; you know it is always a joy to visit your spot and enjoy your wonderful artwork.

  7. Glorious, Lynn! Thank you so much…I do love my visits to my favorite cities, but for some reason, never in August; as you’ve so perfectly described, the heat and noise are too pronounced and the smells rather too ripe…what an excellent and sensuous retreat your garden tour and Handel provided! Blessings to you and your garden as we head into autumn. 🙂

    • Thanks, Kitty – glad you enjoyed the tour and the music! We started back to school this week and our university is in the middle of the city. Usually I enjoy being on campus but there is a big construction project going on next to our building and that day was particularly hot, humid, and noisy. I always experience a shift in awareness when I come home from work and turn up our driveway surrounded by gardens. “Ah, home” I think to myself and let go of the work day. But this time, the contrast was rather breathtaking 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, I hope you are well.

  8. Excellent music for the background. From the initial prompt, I searched the music … a classical guitar version was wonderful … but so were the orchestras.The music fit the mood of your words and went well with the flowers! Therefore, you made an excellent choice of words. Love the way you weave your love for music and the garden together into outstanding words.

    • Thanks, Frank – so glad you enjoyed it!. The sarabande is one of my favorite forms of music. I played the Handel piece on piano as a kid and later wrote one of my own as part of a dance suite for woodwind quintet. I’ve always loved the stately flow of that form of music.

  9. I looked, I listened, I read. I couldn’t agree more or feel any less.

    “Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances”, but you don’t have to be Angelou or Handel to feel nature and it’s wonder. You just have to breath it in as you would air, then exhale it as inspiration and joy.

    Thanks for this, am a better person for the experience.

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