Summer’s Farewell

September has been a long, lingering sip of wine for me. In my youth, I was thoughtlessly busy with the beginning of school, homework, new friends and harvesting on the farm. This year I have slowed to a crawl and savor the heat and dry days while letting go of my former life yet again. I’m facing the fact that I will never return to work with the public as a teacher, writer or artist. The crone’s inward turning after 60, release of old blood ties and obligations, and a new gratitude for simply waking up every day have replaced the angst in my fifties.

I am grateful daily for the little dramas and triumphs I find in my small urban lot–the spiders who live or die by what ends up in their web, a mockingbird’s virtuoso performance all day long in the backyard, the monarch’s heroic journey as it finds respite from the Tithonia or zinnia of its homeland before heading south, and the late-planted poppies that insist on flowering no matter how late in the season.

I hesitate before planting my fall crops, afraid to break the spell of this enchanted late-summer slumber before the hard frosts. I know the cold will come but I’m in no great rush, lulled by the soft song of tree frogs and crickets amid the whir from grasshopper’s wings that continue to fairy dance on languid evenings. Winter will come soon enough, but until then I pause on the doorstep, listening to the faint echo of summer’s retreating footsteps.

Summer of Rain

June and July became blurred by extremes in rain and heat. Rainfall totals broke a 165-year-old record in my area and when the sun turned red from wildfires in the west bringing the heat with it, our wet soil cracked under the strain. We were told to pull all bird feeders and drain the baths when a mysterious illness started killing the songbirds. Scientists still don’t know the source. Luckily, all the flowers I have endlessly planted have come to the rescue for pollinators and seedeaters who flock around the house. We harvest from our vegetable garden daily now, and I am thankful to freeze the bounty as we begin to don our masks again with the new variant.

With all the torrential changes in weather, mood and outlook, I have learned to go with the flow and let the fear drain away. My soul is too exhausted to hold on to the terror of what will be, adrenaline racing with worry at every news update and media blitz. I consciously change the station in my head and head out to the garden or sit beneath a tree old enough to remember another kind of blitz, its roots burying the ills of man to feed the tender shoots of a new beginning, nibbled on by fresh fawns who have existed for only a second in the world, but who are already wiser than I.

Autumn is usually a dry season, but this year who knows? With reservoirs full and rivers overflowing, water will still find a way to leave and wind its way toward the collective oceans. And like the summer itself, I cannot hold the water back or prevent it from moving on. Even the dew will disappear one day soon, to be replaced by its cousin the frost.

Until then, I admire those sparkling jewels I find displayed in the morning garden.

Swallow Time

On the last day of July, I take a big gulp and write again. I’ve been trying to figure out what to say after such a long pause, how to kickstart a place that’s grown dusty and silent. Four months have flown by since I’ve marked the page. In that time I’ve traveled extensively, including a family trip to London and back to the East coast twice.

Photos taken with the phone become my journal by giving me handy dates when time runs together as it has this year. I began this blog ten years ago and as in 2009, 2019 is a “nine” year of endings. Several projects and obligations are coming to a close for me. Traumas from the past rise up to be acknowledged and finally put to rest so that I can begin a new cycle in 2020. A new sense of self is slowly emerging from an old chrysalis to the tunes of buzzing cicadas and chirping crickets.

I fear this season is racing along too fast despite exciting travel adventures, jolly gatherings with friends, musical evenings and a few precious days of perfect weather. Autumn will see the completion of some commitments, and while I look forward to a quiet winter, I haven’t had my fill of the sun after a very cold and wet spring and early summer.

At least the barn swallows haven’t left yet. They swirl around the barn roofs and power lines, fattening up on insects and waiting for the later broods to fledge. I take comfort in their aerial acrobatics every day, and am ever grateful for every mosquito they consume. I enjoy and yet brace for the day when the stucco nests are empty and the rooflines bereft.

Until it’s time again next summer.

Summer Reflections

Kids are heading back to school, moving trucks are out in force, and I have just returned from our first successful attempt at a vacation this summer of 2017. Old friends took pity on us in our stuffy apartment during these final sweltering July days by inviting us up to their family’s cabin on the Menominee Indian Reservation near Keshena, Wisconsin.

This was only my third time in the Badger State, and we couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful weekend to indulge in a few days of swimming, boating, lounging around a campfire and gazing up at the stars. Located on the shores of a string of lakes that have been connected together, I was enchanted by the serenity of this land and its people during boat rides to remote parts of the reservation.

A large portion of undeveloped property has been returned to the Menominee tribe, and they gather on the shoreline for reunions and birthdays, to fish and swim, play games, eat and socialize. As we slowly passed numerous campsites and RV gatherings, I marveled at how peaceful and happy they seemed without the fancy cottages and noisy watercraft on the commercial areas of the lakes, sandy banks and perhaps a simple inner tube all that was needed for hours of swimming fun. We were warmly greeted for our quiet passage, careful not to create a wake strong enough to erode edges where the beautiful beech and pine trees perched.

During our visit, we saw and heard loons, gulls, sandhill cranes and even a majestic bald eagle. At night on the dock, as the Milky Way appeared overhead to remind us of other worlds, I found myself thinking back to those gatherings along the shoreline with longing and an urge to join in community with one of the few tribes that still lives on its original lands. That kind of belonging is as alien to me as those distant lights in a faraway galaxy, and as elusive as the shooting star I saw falling from an endless sky.

Giant in the Grass


Beyond a shadow of a doubt, daylight’s time is shortening and summer’s silhouettes are lengthening even as the heat and humidity are just warming up in weather’s ballpark. It’s been a funny little summer, expectations distorted by cool Canadian air that has wandered away from the tour group and gotten lost in suburbs full of empty pools and quiet air-conditioners.

But Canada has returned home now, leaving behind its fire pits that will be fired up again come autumn, so the next time I see my shadow may well be by a bonfire’s dancing glow. Now, where did I put those marshmallows?

This month I’m taking a photo a day and following the topics of Susannah Conway’s August Break 2014. And why don’t you join me? I double-dog dare you!

Wild Honey

The laziness of summer pours down on me slow like clover honey, bees too busy to care that I languish in their sweet meadows, lulled into lullabies past of cattle’s soft footfalls beside the creek’s mumbled verse. Too many years ago I foolishly built stony dams with the dauber’s mud under wild mint and silver leaf, to stop the current of time, to no avail.

*My excuse for playing hooky this month. I’d rather be out smelling/photographing/painting the flowers.

Is This Gandalf’s Hat?

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I lay in an unraveling hammock of slow southern heat, deep in the mysteries of dwarven kingdoms and hobbit holes and Gollum’s riddles? Fires from a merciless afternoon sun lasered through the roof of twin Norway maples, to singe me with the kiss of Smaug while my book split open across my knees.

To this day, I wander in search of entrance back to Rivendell, resting under middle earth’s translucent banners dusted with dormant magic, while I raise my eyes to the same innocent blue of a child’s forgotten world.

From there I can feel my bare feet padding down old paths, knowing the way.

Photo Friday: Moon Dance

My husband called me outside the other night to witness strange companions. Bring your camera, he said. The moon goddess and Thor were stepping it up in the skies to the beat of August crickets.

I have nothing but respect for these two. I bow to his thunderous roars (even when they wake me from a sound sleep) and I plant by her phase.

Try as I might with my poor little camera, I couldn’t capture his zapping bolts. He is too quick for me, hiding in diaphanous cover. But she has glowed in our windows every night this week, a constant comfort in a violent world.

Happy full moon weekend.

Photo Friday: Looking Up

I’ll tell you right now. There’s something about this summer. Maybe it’s the terrible headlines full of possibilities to take one’s breath away. Maybe the last hard winter that still lingers in formerly frostbitten fingers. Maybe my crazy impulse to run away from it all, camera in hand capturing lost youth.

Even as I hear the death knells of my life spent with head in sand, I am filled with hope. Is it better to live with your eyes wide open? No matter how myopic, I find the divine everywhere. Stray ladybugs take my arm in the grand dance. A rough road slows me down to savor the honeysuckle breeze. Beauty insists on growing in the cracks.

I can never be too busy not to notice.

And so I look up.