The Year’s Last, Loveliest Smile

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
~WIlliam Cullen Bryant

muddy shoeAutumn is officially here in the Northern Hemisphere. I’ve been busy lately filming nature’s habitats for my A Year in Penn’s Woods project. On this past solstice weekend, I filmed scenes at a lake in the county park near our home. This lake was dredged and restored a year ago and is again filled with a rich diversity of plants and wildlife. Summertime was over, but the fish were still jumpin’ in the lake. Geese, ducks, and a beautiful blue heron graced the water. Yes, I lost a shoe to the mudflats that morning, having ventured too close to the water to find the right spot for filming. The water saturated mud sucked the tightly laced shoe right off of my foot and soaked through the other one; it seemed more important at the time to save the photography equipment rather than the hapless shoe. Undeterred, I continued filming in muddy socks on firmer ground. Lesson learned for future ventures.

Autumn solstice moon

The night of the solstice was magical; a moon slightly past full held court in the heavens wreathed by feathery garlands of clouds. The night was warm; the thrum and buzz of cicada and frog song created the illusion of a summer night instead of the advent of the autumn solstice. As the frog and insect chorus died away, the late evening concert was completed by the soft hoot of an owl in the woods. Although I am still editing the video footage I captured, I grabbed some still shots out of the video to share.  Enjoy!

All photos © 2013 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

September Song

Oh, it’s a long long while from May to December,
But the days grow short when you reach September. ~lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, from September Song

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Those long summer evenings are gone, borne away on the boom and crack of violent thunderstorms. Perhaps a few more warm nights remain, filled with the summer songs  of cicadas and frogs, but the weather is quickly changing to the cool short days of fall. It has been an odd summer – weather spinning from torrential rains and steamy days to the occasional stretch of dry sunny weather. Now the garden is filled with the sunny blooms of goldenrod and black-eyed susan; the last crop of cherry tomatoes glisten in shiny red cascades, and a giant cloud of fragrant white stars covers the sweet autumn clematis climbing up the fence and into the trees. All the creatures are busy filling their larders against the coming winter, from spiders bundling up yellow jackets caught in their webs to squirrels and chipmunks gathering acorns under the oak trees. The hummingbirds and most of the butterflies have headed south and flying V’s of geese are starting to follow them. Next week, the autumn solstice returns and summer will be truly gone.

As I wander the garden these days, pruning and weeding in preparation for bulb planting, I keep hearing the lovely “September Song” in my mind.  Here are a few images from the final days of the garden and a lovely clip of Ella Fitzgerald singing Kurt Weil’s haunting song. It is a lovely experience to start the music as a soundtrack before exploring the photos. (Click on any image to start the slide show – all images ©2013 Lynn Emberg Purse.)