Tuesday, September 28, 2010


It's cooler---54 right now, and the feeling of Fall is creeping into the air. Today's a bit of a cloudy day, and all the colors are muted---all the still-greens and the waning punches of red and bright pink and the yellows of the potted flowers and the few holdouts in the drought-sered garden.

And the yard itself is a mishmash of the weekend's garage cleanout---still with the broken-down boxes, flattened and tied, and the bags of styrofoam from the packing, and the other keep-or-save or where-will-it-GO items of twenty years' accumulation.

There's naught but green, still, in all the hanging trees and bushes, grown like jungle along the fence-sides, crawled over garage and potting shed, and remarkably lively, for the months of waterless existence that have been August and September. Hardly a peek of any orange or gold along the roadsides, for the heat has fooled the calendars of the trees, leaving them gasping in the hot still air until the first quick cool night just now.

The only calls-of-Autumn have been the temperatures and the change in the bright of the days---the slants of the sun have tilted mightily, and we look up, early in the evening, to see darkened windows when we still feel eight p.m.

Bringing out the Fall decor---the remembered swirls and festoons of bright leaves and gilded gourds and the old familiar pumpkin mugs, the small new Jack-be-Littles of the perfect hand-sized pumpkins and squash, the crisp, born-lacquered bean-pods from the neighbor's tree, the new string of jack-o-lights for the living room dresser's vase of dried limbs. We'll get more of the decorating done soon, winding a leaf-boa around the dining room chandelier, scattering those big crisp seed-pods down the table amongst brighter hues, putting small candles into the luminaria for the walk, but today's a stay-in-and-bake something day, I think.

I was struck by the imagery in a recent Little Compton Mornings, by my friend Jane:

There are several faithful, or fateful, signs of waning summer. One that never ceases to catch me off guard is the dusky lilac-pink of Joe Pye-weed looming, portent-like, by the side of the road—how is it that something so large and attention-demanding can rise up so suddenly, seemingly overnight? The Queen Anne’s Lace, far more quiet, just as if it had been there all along and you had been too fool to notice.

The air has changed. Nights are cooler, and the sky at evening has a wistful look, its radiance faded from the intensity of just a few weeks ago, its colors muted as if to more age-appropriate hues. In the morning when I take my coffee outside, the sun’s slant barely reaches the table top, quitting its old job of cup warmer, and telling me to trade in my hat for a sweater. Even the sounds are different. They seem to say, it’s time to go.


sparrowgrass said...

I spent Sunday hauling all my houseplants back indoors. They have enjoyed their summer outdoors--I think they all gained at least 10 pounds, and my back is still hurting today. Of course, the fact that I discovered a cheap source of fantastic ceramic pots doesn't help--some of the pots weigh 30 or 40 pounds all by themselves.

The night-blooming cereus (Doctor Suess named that one, I am sure) has done especially well this summer--it is absolutely covered with buds. I need to divide it--I could hardly lift its great mass onto the tea cart and wheel it into the sunroom. It takes up a whole corner of the room--some of its branches are 6 feet long.

I am a summer girl--I have to make an effort to enjoy the fall and winter. I *am* looking forward to cooking--I have spent the summer eating salads. I had clam chowder last night--chopping the onions and potatoes and bacon was soothing.

Southern Lady said...

What a lovely tribute to Fall's awakening, Rachel ... written as only you could write it. I googled "Joe Pye Weed," and that's not what my mystery weed is ... darn it. Perhaps when its buds open, I will be able to identify it.

I loved Jane's description of summer's fading days, too.

Tonja said...

I loved this post, Rachel. The words rolled around in my head and made such lovely sounds! Thanks for the treat!

Chesapeake said...

Southern Lady, your plant may be a Joe Pye Weed after all. There are a number of types of that wildflower, which I did not know until I did a search for it after seeing your picture. I do recognize it in the wild (Thank you, Mother!) and can see where it does not look exactly like the pictures in the placement of the flowers. Don't have my ID books handy, so can't look in them ;-(
And, Rachel, we are seeing color changes in the leaves, but probably because of our drought.

Kim Shook said...

I am yearning to get out all the Fall/Halloween decorations out. Hope to find time this weekend! Mike brought home a couple of darling little additions to the Halloween citizens - a black cat and little pumpkin man. They are already living on the piano - waiting for their friends. We saw a little color on the trees when we drove up to the State Fair this weekend. But, like Chesapeake says, the drought will dull things down.

Southern Lady said...

Chesapeake: Thank you for the information. I will keep an eye on my plant and see if I can tell what it is when the buds open.

Keetha said...

I love visiting here. You describe the seasons in a way that perfectly describes them.

I'm a fall girl: bring it on!

Jeanne said...

Hi Rachel, we are out of town and won't be home until late Thurs. night. I love the way you speak fall! This weekend there will be a cold spell in the mountains. It is ok with me. I did some Halloween decorating before we left to visit our son so I will have something to post when we arrive home. We found some beautiful mums here, two for $10. A real bargain.

We are having bad rain here too. The tropical depression is unloading on us. The rain is needed.
See you soon, Hugs...

Kat said...

There's definitely some chill in the air at night and first thing in the morning. I was a bit chilly when I rode my bike to tennis early this morning. Loved it.

Sitting here drinking my first cup of hot tea this season.