Tuesday, August 8, 2017

An Unlikely August

In the cool dusk of Sunday evening we sat late in our rocking chairs on the side porch. 
The afterglow of a subdued pastel sunset cast a hint of apricot over the white walls of the lower farmhouse; fireflies flickered through the rough grass at the edges of the lane.

As darkness fell, cicadas began their rasping tunes from the trees beyond the retaining wall.  Lightning flashed in the southern sky, but there was no sound of thunder. 
"That storm is halfway to the Tennessee line," announced Jim, 'but the rain is headed this way."

A breeze stirred, the hummingbirds made a last visit to the feeders hanging at the edge of the porch.
Charlie-cat plodded up the steps, his shaggy coat a pale blur; he jumped into my lap, trod about, plumped down for a moment, bounced to the floor, complaining.  Willis crouched on the walk, a grey shape in the pool of yellow light spilling through a living room window.

The high pitched bleating of goat kidlets reached us and we noted B's headlamp moving about near the stable as she settled the goats for the night.
A small wind stirred restlessly, sending an empty plastic flower pot skittering across the porch floor.  The air cooled sharply and there was the scent of distant rain.

A few spatters of rain fell as Jim headed upstairs at 10. By the time I followed him nearly an hour later, rain was pounding on the roof.
I lay in bed, watching the occasional flash of lightning through the parted window curtains.  A particularly heavy burst of rain brought me out of bed to investigate whether Jim had closed the west windows on either side of the hallway.  He hadn't--and as I padded toward them I felt the fine mist of rain driven past billowing curtains.
Several cats followed anxiously at my heels as I made my round of inspection, trudged back with me to the big bed where the warmth of a shabby duvet offered comfort.

We woke Monday morning to a heavy grey dawn and the realization that we had overslept.
 Sidewalk and steps were slick with water; so much rain had accumulated in the pot of zinnias that I had to tip it out to rescue them from drowning.

The sun broke through mid-morning, although banks of grey clouds loomed in the north.

This is a strange beginning to August in Kentucky.  The stifling heat of other summers has visited us in short spells through July, rarely unbearable, though we've been grateful for the A/C units which keep the downstairs cool by day and the bedroom pleasant at night.
The garden has been unusually productive as there has been no prolonged time of intense heat or drought.
Along the lane and in the pastures late summer wildflowers are already in bloom.

Brown seedheads of Queen Anne's Lace tower above the yellow glow of goldenrod.

Short stems of Queen Anne's Lace have revived along the fence in the wake of Jim's lawn mower.

Goldenrod sprawls above a leaning pasture gate.

Joe Pye weed looms in the shade along the wooded hillside.

In a moist corner of the upper pasture--beyond the goats' browsing range--a mad tangle of Joe Pye weed, Queen Anne's lace, goldenrod.

Boneset stands tall against the dark treeline of the ridge.

Jewelweed glows from deep in the afternoon shadows.

Beneath the tulip poplar at the edge of the lane fallen leaves are an early harbinger of autumn.

 Tomato plants have responded to the kindly balance of sun and rain, thus far resistant to the blight that usually spoils the crop.
It is the season for sharing and for 'putting up' the bounty of the garden, a time of kitchen counters laden with baskets and buckets of tomatoes, jars, kettles, all the satisfying untidiness of canning.
Life is busy--and I am content that it should be so.


  1. What a lovely post about the rhythm of your days. I echo your "life is busy, and I am content that it should be so." Absolutely. As you know I am meant to be resting my way to recovery at the moment, but I find it SO difficult to just sit on the sofa! Good book or no.

    The Queen Anne's Lace that has gone over looks like what I would recognize as Wild Carrot here - with its upturned flowerhead - rather than the flatter open other Umbellifer cousins. Joe Pye Weed is something I bought seeds of when we first moved here, but they never grew. It I VERY similar (and same family as) the Hemp Agrimony which is growing along the backs of the verges and hedgerows here right now. I should imagine it is a bit of a thug if you have it in a border.

    Boneset I have heard of too - that's another Eupatorium so closely related to the two above. Was it once used to heal broken bones (like the Comfrey was here?)

    My Golden Rod harvest was picked last night and I am going to stew it up as a dyestuff this morning, then freeze it until my mordant arrives and I have spun some yarn to dye. I am now eyeing up some big chunks of Alkenet root as I have lots of this growing and self-seeding around the plot.

    I'm glad you are having a cooler summer. Really high temperatures are so tiring.

  2. You have such a wonderful gift for writing. Kentucky sounds like a lovely place to live. We had some humid weather down here in southern California but now we're back to our dry heat. Enjoy your day, Pat

  3. You are such a good story teller, I was with you on that porch as the sun went down.

  4. Enjoyed your newsy, relaxed post.

    Happy August ~ FlowerLady

  5. It has indeed been a strange summer, weeds have thrived, other plants not so much.

  6. Indeed it has been an unlikely August, July as well. Here in southwestern Vermont there are farmers who are just now getting their first crop of hay. The rains have been heavy, unpredictable and frequent. The substantial Red Buds, Rhododendrons and Shad Blow that we had planted have loved all the rain, as have I because I haven't had to lug hoses quite so often. We put the last two horses down last fall and as a result our horse pasture has grown up to a gorgeous wildflower meadow. We are just that much behind you that our Queen Anne's Lace is in full bloom as is the Blue Vervain, Joe Pye Weed and Boneset. Our resident American Kestrels have produced yet another healthy and noisy brood of chicks. The youngsters are now hunting on their own and lots of fun to watch. My tomatoes are just now starting to ripen. Nothing like a warm tomato right from the garden!! I love reading your posts; you are so in tune with all that is happening just outside your door. Thank you!

  7. I agree, it's been a blessedly different August and I am enjoying it. Especially the continued garden bounty and cooler temps. It may heat up again but at least we've had a break.

  8. What a beautifully written post that I enjoyed reading so much. Thank you.