Many people like to travel—to see new sights and to eat new food. While I understand the need for novelty, I find that I get plenty of variety in my own yard. Best of all, I don’t have to take a plane, bus, or automobile. I merely have to go down a few steps, and there are I am, surrounded by gardens and trees that look different with every season.
Right now, in Maine, it is fall, a lovely but bittersweet time of year, when all things green and growing are getting ready for the long cold of winter. In the front yard the leaves of the Solomon’s seal have turned a ghostly white, a pale contrast with the black-eyed Susans, which are beginning to fade.
The leaves of the hosta Frances Williams are yellowing and curling in on themselves.
In the backyard, there is a blaze of color in the woods, a bold punctuation among the evergreens. Soon the leaves will fall, a sprinkle of red on the forest floor.
We haven’t taken in the patio chairs and table, and it often continues to be warm enough for me to sit and listen to the crickets singing their song of fall. So far, the little jumping creatures haven’t been stilled by the cold. Neither have the nasturtiums, which are still blooming, albeit in a more desultory way than they were at their peak.
Often times, in the waning warm of autumn, Little Miss Watson keeps me company.
And watching over everything is a Spirit of the woods, guarding the yard whatever the season.
Although I haven’t been blogging, I have been working diligently on my YA fantasy novel, Out of Time. I am about three-quarters done. The end is in sight, and I can definitely see land now. This galloping toward the finish line is the exciting part of writing a book, and thoughts of editing and revision are pushed firmly to the side. All that matters now is the story, and there will be time enough for the really picky work when I am finished.
While I have been feverishly working—six days a week, with Sundays off—late summer has begun its slide into early fall. A bittersweet time. Fall, with its blaze of orange, red, and yellow, is magnificent in Maine. The cool, crisp days are invigorating, and the bounty of apples, squash, and potatoes reminds us of all the good things that come from Earth. Simmering soups and fresh biscuits or muffins make this a cozy season.
But—somehow there is always a but—the days are shorter, and we no longer have long nights on the patio. The nights have become cool enough that we have begun thinking about turning on the heat, a cost that is a burden for those of us who live on a shoestring budget.
In this part of the world, fall is also hurricane season, and right now there is a brute of a storm named Dorian that is smashing the Bahamas and heading toward Florida. We mourn for the destruction in the Bahamas and wait apprehensively as Dorian approaches Florida. “Go out to sea, go out to sea,” we pray, but the storm runs by its own rules and will hit wherever it wants.
While hurricanes usually don’t make it as far north as Maine, we have nevertheless begun thinking of stocking up on canned beans, canned soup, peanut butter, and batteries. Winter is coming, and we want to be prepared. Yesterday I emptied, scrubbed, and refilled the big covered buckets we use for storing water. That way, if a storm knocks out our power, we have water. We have a well, and no power means no water. This scrubbing and refilling is a yearly fall ritual, another reminder that summer is coming to an end.
The gardens are yet another reminder. As my blogging friend Tootlepedal might put it, our gardens are no longer at their best. Their midsummer glory is a thing of the past, and now a faded, slightly regretful air hangs over everything. And the shrubs, neglected last year, are in desperate need of a trimming.
Fortunately, we have black-eyed Susans to brighten the yard.
And the promising blush of pink from the sedums.
Farewell, Summer. Sometimes, especially in July, you are too hot, but I still love you.
And now it’s back to work on Out of Time. I am hoping that my next post—probably the end of September—will have the title Finished.
The crickets have begun to sing. Their sweet trilling songs signal the arrival of late summer, a beautiful time in Maine. And this year, despite the climate crisis, August in Maine is everything it ought to be. The days are warm and dry. The nights are cool. We have a little rain now and then. Such a lovely, lovely month, and I wish I could stop it from speeding by. August, stay awhile. Don’t hurry on.
By August, the gardens are usually starting to look a little tattered, but this year they still look pretty good. Perhaps it’s because we had such a cool, rainy spring, and everything got a late start.
However, the slugs and snails have been nibbling on the hostas.
Still, they don’t look too bad. Sometimes by this time of year the hosta leaves look like green lace.
For the first time, I planted nasturtiums in the patio garden, and they are thriving. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. It looks as though the nasturtiums are ready to engulf the patio, and woe to those sitting on that side of the table. Feed me, Seymour!
This week the first Black-eyed Susan opened, and there are many more to come.
As is noted on the Better Homes & Gardens website, “Since black-eyed Susan blooms when other summer perennials begin to fade, this plant is a true sign that fall is near.” Even though I love fall, black-eyed Susans are another reason to cherish August.
Various daylilies are still blooming. While they don’t thrive in my shady yard, they do add welcome bursts of color.
This weekend, we will be going to two plays. We will be having a friend over for nibbles and tidbits.
We will hold August close and be outside as much as possible.
Somehow, the weather must have known that July has ended and August has begun. At least for the moment, the horrid humidity has gone. We no longer feel as though we are being squeezed and sapped by the heat. Instead, the warmth holds us in a gentle hand, reminding us of how sweet summer can be. And like Augusts of old, the past two nights have been so chilly that we have needed blankets.
A window is by my desk, and a turn of the head is all it takes to look outside and see a hummingbird working the hosta blossoms. In the bush by the window, a bird sings a piping, melodious song. I hear the buzz of grasshoppers, a true sound of summer, reminding me of the fragrant smell of a warm field.
At the end of the day, when the work is done, what awaits me is one of my absolute favorite places to be—our own humble patio.
Here is a side view.
Although you can’t see them in the photo, the Mardi Gras Parade daylilies have begun to bloom. Unfortunately, these daylilies are not thriving, but the colors are so pretty that I have left them there.
While Clif and I have a drink—sometimes cocktails, sometimes beer, sometimes iced tea—visitors come.
And on a fine August evening, caressed by the heat as I watch the birds and the dragonflies, I feel as though I am the luckiest woman in Winthrop.