Fits and starts

“fits and starts” – with irregular movement; with much stopping and starting” ~ The Free Dictionary

Spring is dancing with one step forward and two steps back, a tango of fits and starts. T-shirt and sandals one week, winter coat and boots the next.  The week before our spring break from school, the days were mild and I hoped to spend the break in the garden.

It is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before…
There is a blessing in the air,
Which seems a sense of joy to yield
To the bare trees, and mountains bare, ~William Wordsworth

 

Alas, my week in the garden was short circuited by cold rainy days and a few snowstorms, yet the flowers bloomed on.

 

Once school restarted, the weather warmed up again but only on the week days! Soon another winter storm came roaring through and left 6” of snow over the garden, captured in the video below.

While I was dismayed by the weather, Angel and our guest poodle Charlie Brown had a grand time playing in the snow, making me laugh at their antics.

 

The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart.  ~Chekhov

On this last day of March, the sun is shining and the air is warming; it is a good day to work in the garden. The snow has finally melted away into the ground, fixing nitrogen into the soil and promising a wonderful garden season to come. Each day, something new blooms or shows promise of growth. The Cornus mas (Cornelian cherry) is a mass of tiny yellow blossoms and small yellow daffodils are coming into flower.

 

As we move into April, I look forward to seeing the garden come alive. Wherever you are, I hope you treasure and enjoy the beginning of spring as the earth comes to life.

In March, winter is holding back and spring is pulling forward. Something holds and something pulls inside of us too. ~Jean Hersey

All photos and text (except where noted) ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.

Gold in Its Pocket

Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons. ~Jim Bishop

goldoakleaves

Cold nights finally arrived this week and transformed the trees and shrubs around the garden and through the woods. Green is giving way to gold and bronze and red, filtering the already golden light through a stained glass canopy of warm colors. It is one thing to view the fiery colors from open ground and another entirely different experience to walk beneath them. I feel as if I am in a new world seen through a new lens.

oakleaves

Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonize. ~George Eliot

herbtreesfallEverywhere I turn, most of the green beneath my feet and above my head has been changed out to a new color scheme. The morning has been a constant shift between hesitant sunshine and spats of rain and every surface is saturated and rich with color.

“And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days…”
~ Dylan Thomas

(click on any photo in the mosaics to enlarge)

A few flowers continue to bloom, offering rich color and the last bits of food to pollinators.

Some of the garden faces are still smiling.

Angel and I make the rounds several times a day – not only are the colors beautiful but the autumn earth is rich with scents. “At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth.” (Rilke)

The leaves are beginning to fall as the rain begins again; it won’t be long before the trees are bare and this glorious color is a memory. “Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” (Chad Sugg)
autumngate

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

All photos and text ©2017 Lynn Emberg Purse except where noted; All Rights Reserved.

Autumn Light

I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The American Notebooks

As our world spins on its tilted axis through October, every morning becomes a wonderment of autumn light. Golden rays slant through the trees at sharp angles, throwing shadows and highlights that transform the familiar into the magical. reflectingpool

After a hot dry September and a warm early October, the trees are still green and just beginning to turn colors. Lately, days of sunshine and blue skies have brought the feeling of a second summer to the garden even as copper oak leaves begin to drift down into the beds. The warm colors linger on in the coleus and coral bells, still thriving before first frost. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger image)

A few fall flowers carry on, greatly appreciated by the bees for a final feast before winter, while newly planted pansies should continue through the spring.

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face. ~John Donne

Some of the rose bushes are bearing hips, softened by the weather, while others continue to blossom in their final flush of color. Every day that a rose blooms in October seems like a precious gift.

The late October sun rarely shines above the trees in the lower garden and so the garden changes in mood throughout the day as the light sifts through the woods. autumngarden

Sometimes it throws a spotlight on favorite spots or favorite plants.

Sometimes it merely softens all of the colors into muted beauty.

softcircles

Step outside for a moment and enjoy the glories of a sunlit autumn day, the grand finale before winter arrives.soredereschtlight

Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale. ~Lauren DeStefano, Wither

All photos and text ©2017 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted

Walk in a dream

You can walk in a dream while you are awake; just walk in the misty morning of a forest! ~Mehmet Murat Ildan

Yesterday was sunny and hot, a perfect August day. Then wild windy storms blew in, pouring rain over the hot earth –  wisps of steam rose into the air as the storm moved on. This morning, I awoke to clouds of fog and mist and felt as if I were still in a dream. Angel and I took a short walk but turned home sooner than usual, concerned about safety on the foggy road. foggyroad

The rain amplified the green of grass and trees along the shady woodland edges.

The fallen tree still hanging over the lower garden has kept me from working there, but the fog softened the shaggy edges and lent the garden an abandoned romantic quality.

The Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ was bowed down by the heavy rains, making the path under it impassible. limelightpath

A spider wasted no time spinning a beautiful web on the deck. spiderweb

Even the brightly colored hillside garden shimmered softly, subdued in the misty light. foggyhilltop

steelerstepsRudbeckia ‘Viette’s Little Suzy’ fell down the steps after the heavy rain but continues to bloom, unconcerned. littlesuzy

I have spent much of this summer composing a cello concerto that will be premiered next year. There is more work to do, but as I walked through the mist this morning, I thought of Benjamin Britten’s description of the process. “Composing is like driving down a foggy road toward a house. Slowly you see more details of the house – the color of the slates and bricks, the shape of the windows. The notes are the bricks and the mortar of the house.”  May you find clarity in the fog and enjoy the misty beauty of your dreams.

foggygate

moonlight disappears down the hills
mountains vanish into fog
and I vanish into poetry ~Sanober Kahn

 

The very top of summer

The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless . . . ~Natalie Babbitt

It is a cool quiet morning as Angel and I go out into the garden. Last night’s raucous frog chorus has faded with the light and the cicadas won’t begin their drowsy drone until the air warms. It feels as if time has stopped, with only the occasional bird song to remind me that I am awake in this beautiful world, the essence of late summer.

The garden has suddenly become voluptuous with the buxom blooms of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ and tall summer phlox (Phlox paniculata).

August creates as she slumbers, replete and satisfied. ~Joseph Wood Crutch 

The composite flowers of Echinacea, Rudbeckia, and shasta daisies (Leucanthemumsuperbum) are running riot through the garden.

late summer steps

I resist the urge to pluck their petals to the chant of “he loves me, he loves me not” and instead admire their cheerful faces so beloved by bees and butterflies.

I saw a monarch butterfly the other day, the first I’ve seen in two years, although it proved to be camera shy. Winged pollinators of all sorts have been busy in the garden.

A few weeks ago, I spied this huge creature on a daylily stem, with a wing span larger than my hand, the Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus).  A denizen of deciduous forests, it only lives a few days as an adult, just long enough to lay eggs and complete its life cycle. When I shared the photo with my friend Edwin, he exclaimed “In 4-H etymology projects this was the grand prize!” Polyphemus moth

I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain. ~Keats

While creatures were flying, trees were falling. A high wind twisted and ripped a tall red oak tree from the base of its trunk in our front woods, splaying it across the road. A friendly neighbor driving by helped us cut the top branches and clear the road until the tree company could remove the rest. Fortunately, only a few fence rails were damaged.

A few days later, I heard a terrible cracking sound through my window at 4 A.M., followed by a series of snaps. I’ve heard a tree fall before and I braced myself for the crash into our house but fortunately, I heard only a solid thud in the distance. At first light, I found our neighbor’s huge oak had cracked near the base and fallen into the woods, taking two smaller oaks with it. I’m hoping the mulberry tree won’t suffer permanent damage, as it now has an oak leaning into it until the tree surgeons do their work later this week.

treefall2

fallenoak

Last night, I walked through the garden at dusk to the sound of evening birdsong and the thrum of tree frogs courting.  The hilltop that looked so cheerful in daylight hilltop

became dreamy and mysterious in the evening light. eveninggarden

There is nothing I like better at the end of a hot summer’s day than taking a short walk around the garden. You can smell the heat coming up from the earth to meet the cooler night air. ~Peter Mayle 

May you enjoy every moment of the very top of summer before the Ferris wheel resumes its downward plunge into fall.