Around here August is when I begin to catch the first taste of fall. It’s still hot and steamy, the kids are still enjoying their break from school, and I still have to stop and think, with no one on a work or school schedule, what day of the week it is, but I can tell that fall is almost with us. For one thing, the light has begun to change–it even makes colors different. The air smells different, too–even though it still hits 90 degrees most days, if you get up early you can catch the merest scent of fall in the early morning air when the dogs get up early for their breakfasts.
A painter friend of mine recently asked me whether I started to pay more attention to objects and light and the way things are arranged when I started to make art, and I have, I have! Today was a good day to look at that, in part because the flowers are changing with the heat and the light. Everything’s a little wabi sabi–displaying the beauty of the broken, of the worn and the ephemeral. Flowers are different now. The tulips and daffs and peonies of April and May and June have given way to and lilies and daisies and coneflowers, and the varieties that bloom in early summer and hang around all season have begun to look, as they say down south, a bit . . . past.
There’s a beauty in these that you just don’t find in the raucous early season blooms, something that tugs just a bit, something all the more beautiful for their hint of the passage of time. The beach roses have dropped their petals, leaving fat shiny rose hips behind. My friend Gunnel told me once that when she was a little girl in Sweden she was often given rose hip soup for breakfast when the days began to grow shorter.
The pedigreed roses are looking a bit blowsy . . .
I especially love the rose bushes I on which you can see virtually every stage of rose life at once: prim little buds, blushing young flowers in early bloom, and blossoms that look a little dissolute, all on the same stem. This gal in the center of this grouping, for instance, looks rather as if she spilled her gin down the front of her party frock and needs a little help getting home:
The goldenrod is out.
And so is the Queen Ann’s Lace (which we called tickweed when I was little), as you can see from this hedge of it, growing so thickly on the banks of a tidal inlet and waving so briskly in the breeze caused by the incoming tide that it came out a little blurry.
And then there are the lilies, which in the course of my walk I saw in white, cream, yellow, pink, and scarlet.
These tiger lilies were my favorites, flowers that insisted that summer isn’t quite over yet.