Cool Nights, Bright Days


This is not particularly a resort area, but the residents flock to the waterways in the summer.  When September rolls onwards, the focus shifts to farm stands and wine trails and harvest festivals, leaving the once-crowded marinas to tidy up and begin the laborious process of putting everything away and getting the boats out of the water.  The slightly bedraggled look of the once-bustling dockside shack indicates the season as clearly as any color-tinged leaf.

For those who enjoy such things, that’s part of the charm.  Endless summer as you find further south does not have such moments.  It’s not only nature, but the social pattern of people that adapt to the climate _ clothing, habits, activities _ and that is as much fun to watch as the never ending spectacles of birds and foliage.


Just about the last stand for morning glories, they like late heat and heat is becoming rare.  Pleasant, yep, but you need a light jacket some of the time, especially if the north wind has kicked back in, which it does a lot more often than a few weeks ago.

Too early to be melancholy, but too brisk to hang out on park benches in shorts and tshirt.  Backyard farmers are either busy processing for the winter, or watching blight overtake the gardens that began so long ago (it seems, or just yesterday) in happy promise.  I know that suddenly my yard chores will be back in full measure, a rising crescendo of falling leaves, spurting weeds, and necessary measures to make the spring blooms extensive and strong.

Even the grubbiest weeds can get into the act, turning brilliant colors before the trees, unexpectedly gleaming counterpoint in forgotten corners.  Last week they were just more dull green junk in piles of more green junk, now they can play the part of jewels on a dress.  By the time everything else kicks into color (making anything still green a welcome relief) these are just brown dead shriveled stalks, their purpose served.

With the right eye, these bits are an unexpected treasure, like finding an unexpected wildflower on a muddy spring stream.  But the right eye must be cultivated _ it is our nature to not notice any of this unless we happen to be looking for something unusual.  A gift of the camera in our busy lives, making us try to find something _ anything_ that strikes us as unusual.

A leaf that has seen better days _ but no matter, no need to repair it now, full replacement is on the way in eight months or so.  These vines participated in the throw-away culture long before there was such a thing.  And how often do we ever look at the stories such holes and edges tell, except to occasionally react in horror if the victim happens to be a favorite cultivated plant?

Of course, “in real life” my eyes see this as just part of what is in focus all at the same time _ that blur behind it revealed as a full panorama, shadows moving overhead, subconsciously alert for any sudden flicker indicating danger to my ancient fears.  A lens tells the truth but also lies, and that is the type of contradiction we face constantly in art, in society, and in life itself.


Dogwood leaves are changing quickly now, among the first, and in a few weeks will be brown and on the ground.  The bright red fruit is ofte
n all but unnoticed, after all they are planted for lovely spring flowers.  But I look out my window here, and seen the back tree almost all dull red, against the still verdant background of maples and forsythia.

We adjust rapidly.  In only a few weeks the high heat has given way to cold mornings, and that suddenly seems totally normal.  The most remarkable capacity of people, I think, is to be able to so completely adapt to almost any situation that after a while it seems right and proper.  I must be constantly on guard to fall into the trap of taking everything _ no matter how splendid _ for granted and losing the enchantment of each day.


Goldenrod _ laden with a full complement of big fat black bees _ loudly proclaims that equinox is arriving.  Sunset is noticeably sooner, and early morning hours are hazy dark already.  As the sun’s angle dips southward, shadows lengthen all day long.

Harvest festivals and fairs are in full swing everywhere, even in towns like Huntington which hasn’t seen a real farm in decades.  We used to take our kids to such events when they were little, but lately our nerves are less tolerant, and we avoid the happy screaming of the wee ones most of the time.  Many days the temperature rises until it is just perfect, and you can sit forever and enjoy the fleeting moment.

Into every life, some rain must fall.  In our case, we are generally happy to see it because for whatever reason the last few years our summers and autumns have been quite dry.  Equinox also begins the time when the North wind becomes a bit more assertive, mists and overcasts wander about more frequently, and of course a perfectly lovely looking morning can chill you to the bone quickly if you do not dress appropriately.  Oh, I know true astronomical equinox is tomorrow, but I’m not a Druid and for an old guy like me just remembering the 21st of certain months is quite enough trouble.

Summer is agoin’ out, October arrives.  Already commercial establishments want everyone to turn their backs on whatever reality is outside to concentrate on “the holidays” with their imaginary weather contrived to resemble well-known stories and movies set in traditional places.  Once upon a time all the neighbors would be fretfully worried about the immediate possibilities of leaves falling, but now our affluent community is fully committed to hiring yard crews to avoid possible interaction with the elements.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s