Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Camus
Somehow, summer slipped by without me and now that I’ve returned to the garden, I find myself in a new season, deep in autumn’s glory. The oak and maple leaves are at their height of color, still clinging to their branches and rustling in the wind that brought November with it this morning. What a rich season filled with a touch of nostalgia for the flower-filled summer that was and a touch of sadness for the stark and cold winter to come.
I missed my garden this summer. Most of my attention was on a major renovation in the kitchen, followed by a nasty flood in the basement brought on by a series of torrential rains. Instead of a quiet summer tending the garden, I lived in a noisy dusty house answering dozens of questions a day from hard-working men who were there to make it beautiful and functional again. We are still putting the last few displaced items away but how wonderful it feels to return to the rake and the clippers and reclaim the last lovely days of the garden season.
In spite of months of construction chaos in the house, I stole a moment here and there to enjoy the garden and those memories inspire me as I weed and prune and prepare the garden for its long winter’s nap. The owls have been hooting in the early morning hours and the bluejays leave me a feather now and then as if to remind me that life goes on in all seasons.
“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
~WIlliam Cullen Bryant
Autumn 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.
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!
“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
Oh, it’s a long long while from May to December,
But the days grow short when you reach September. ~lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, fromSeptember 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.