It is late August, the days are filled with the steady murmur of cicadas and the nights resound with the addition of a wood frog chorus that surrounds on all sides. This is my favorite time of year. The garden is lush and filled with late summer blooms of gold and purple and demands little from the gardener. Butterflies and hummingbirds flit around like living jewels, feeding on pollen that will speed their journey south in a few weeks. Storm clouds come and go, creating shifting patterns of light and shadow. The county park nearby celebrates the season with stands of goldenrod and Joe Pye weed.
One year ago today, I began the Composer in the Garden blog and I want to thank everyone who has visited, liked, commented and followed. I have learned so much and have made so many friends. This community has offered me a place to explore ideas and commit to creating and presenting my music and images on a regular basis. This week, I am in the middle of composing a new piece, “August in Penns Woods” which will use a recording of the sound of my garden as both inspiration and as part of the piece itself. The year has come full circle. Here is my first ever post, The Sound of the August Garden, that contains the sound file that will serve as the basis for this new piece.
Thank you, my friends, and I look forward to another year.
It is early evening, and there is just enough light to see as I meander through the garden, a last visit before dark. Angel Eyes and I wander about, pausing to listen to the insect orchestra from various vantage points. A steady two note drone provides the underlying ostinato, while pointillistic voices of cicadas and crickets spring from every direction in polite succession. It may be too cool this evening for the tree frog chorus – on a warm night, they are the antiphonal brass and rat-a-tat percussion of this natural orchestra, but tonight it seems to be strings and woodwinds.
I love living surrounded by trees – my attempts to compose surround sound pieces seem feeble when compared to the robust chorus of our woodlands in August. I really should be in my studio tonight, working on the fourth movement of a large work called “The Four Elements” – fire, or perhaps Lux Aeterna. But it is difficult to tear myself away from the amazing concert in the garden. So . . . I pour myself a modest glass of wine and surrender to nature’s concert once again – Angel and I go out onto the deck for a final listening session.
The late August garden is a tall and blowsy affair. The plants that survived July’s burning sun and dry soil have caught their second wind and are encouraged into fresh growth by the cooler nights and the rainy remnants of the hurricane season. Hummingbirds and butterflies flock to their favorite flowers, building up energy for their imminent migrations. Everything is tall – the shrubs have grown extra arms that reach everywhere, the grasses have sprouted tall wands that catch the wind, and everything seems to flow and spill and tumble in a rush to be seen and tasted before summer ends.
Now it is almost dark – the brash golds and burgundies of Rudbeckia and Zinnia are now only rendered as silhouettes in the fading light. It is chilly enough to want a sweater and a cup of tea – but it is hard to go inside when the fading light still reveals layer upon layer of texture, shape, movement . . . it is difficult to leave, to walk away from the enchantment of Mother Earth’s humble orchestra. Tonight, the windows will remain open to the sound of the August garden.
Listen to the sounds of the cicadas and tree frogs.