Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August to Autumn . . .

I know that's a rather confusing photo above -- what I'm trying to show you is the flower plume on a miscanthus grass in my garden.

See there, below, the vertical pluming line at about centre. . .
What's the big deal, you ask? Same big deal as you might notice if you peer very closely at the Sedum spectabile 'autumn joy' pictured below. Can't see it yet?

Well, let's look a bit more closely. . .
Those wee pink centres revealed as the teeny individual buds open . . .

Soon, that whole flowerhead will be a rich rosy hue, living up to the plant's name -- Autumn Joy -- and heralding the start of fall. Heralding the new season just like those plumes on the grasses. I know these signs well, now, from so many preceding years -- I know that before too long, the plumes will dominate the grass, and they'll be festooned with spiderwebs, themselves decked out with dewdrops while their fat predatory inhabitant readies herself for winter. Yes, I've already tumbled myself imaginatively right smack into winter, all thanks to a few feathery spikes on a clump of grass and some teeny-tiny dabs of pink on a fleshy perennial.
I'm particularly sensitive to these portents of cooler, shorter days because I was working on campus today. I picked up a new parking permit, organized a pile of material that must be read before some hiring meetings I have to attend next week, and bought my new academic-year day-planner. I also realized that my book order for the term's courses is missing an important text, and, worse, that the error was my own!
Ah well, the books have been ordered and will probably make it in time for the second week or so of classes. And when I got home, Pater had embarked on his brand new hobby -- breadmaking! -- so there were good smells in place. And there were children playing on the beach and people swimming and I went in as well and had a deliciously cooling swim. So while summer is on its way out, it is still with us for the moment. I'm going to make the most of it each day, even though I'm joining the working folk again.
The words "August" and "Autumn" used to confuse me, when I was young, because they look and sound fairly similar, and they refer to something that seemed almost the same to me -- and yet when I replaced "Autumn" with its synonym "Fall," the similarity turned to difference. August/Summer: : Autumn/Fall. We often speak of September as feeling more like a New Year than January does, what with the start of the school year, the end of summer freedom. That may be so, but I'm more intrigued by the transitions -- and, yes, the portents -- of August/Autumn. Perhaps because I'm rather at an August/Autumn place myself, life-wise, reaping the harvests, the benefits, but aware they're not unlimited.
So for the next few weeks, when I'm not preparing course outlines, sitting in on hiring interviews, and attending department and faculty and committee meetings, I'll be picking blackberries, reading in the hammock, having G&Ts on the patio, and swimming, swimming, swimming. What plans do you have for making the most of summer?