Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Last Day of Summer

We all measure this differently, summer being more than a meteorological term. For me, the first day of classes is a turning point, although most of us have been preparing our course materials for some weeks.

Summer is my favorite, hands down. There’s a little room at the back of my house that’s uninsulated and full of windows, so once the cold weather hits it gets taped off. But in summer it’s lovely. My desk faces the window – I often stop writing to stare outside and let the words rattle around in my head. This morning, the low light is illuminating long strands of spider web and lots of tiny insects flying in and out of the yellow shafts of sun. The birds cast enormous shadows as they fly in to drink at the birdbath. There is a middle-aged maple tree, and I am so grateful to the people who planted it decades before they would benefit from its generous shade, if they had stayed here.

In spring, a friend brought me a praying mantis egg case. We attached it to the metal humming bird my daughter bought me for the garden. I didn’t see the tiny green mantises emerge, and at some point I stopped watching, so that when I found my first one, it was already a couple inches long. They are everywhere! and fascinating. I found four in one day.

The lilies my friend Jane gave me bloomed too, in the richest palette – like silk and velvet. They are done now that it’s summer’s end, but Jane’s anemone are brightening up the garden’s edge. Once they set seeds, the black-eyed Susans will flash with gold finches.

The butterfly bush I planted last year had swallowtails and so many kinds and colors of butterflies, including a hawk moth. The purple flowers are vibrant and fragrant. I originally had a wild forsythia growing in that spot, poised to colonize the entire state of Ohio, and this courteous and feathery bush is a much better fit.

I don’t grow any food, since my CSA shares and the farmer’s market fill my kitchen with locally grown goodness. But I got a fantastically rich compost that I tucked in everywhere, resulting in healthy, bright, gorgeous flowers and one volunteer tomato.

I got a little farther on my front garden – it’s not finished as I planned but last year’s plantings filled in and exploded in blossoms and that gave me a sense of scale, color and texture that is helpful for the rest of the project. Each evening after I worked there, the sparrows would come and roll around in the dust on the sidewalk and peck away at the angry, stirred up ants. 

The sculpted birdbath, lilies, praying mantises, metal hummingbird and large flat stones were all gifts. I dedicate this day to counting blessings.

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