It is dark still at five in the morning. The lop-sided triangle of sky visible through my bedroom window is murky grey; the trees on the hillside are shapeless in the gloom. This is not the velvety blackness of deepest night, but something less than a flush of dawn.
By six o'clock, the patch of sky has a pearly hue; the trees on the ridge show green, though their shapes are indistinct. Inside my bedroom color has not emerged. Walls, curtains, my painted rocker, the patchwork quilt folded on a rack near the window--all wear the sepia tints of a room in a faded vintage photo.
Downstairs at a few minutes past six, the kitchen is dark; table and chairs loom, the wood range is a black hulk. The north windows frame a view of the stable and the dark thick woods beyond.
Summer has continued past the turning of the calendar page--a summer marked by frequent rain and days of sullen steamy heat.
We've tweaked the settings of the newly installed A/C system, keeping the rooms upstairs and down comfortably cooled.
Outside, even this early in the day, the air is heavy with moisture, suffocatingly warm.
The cats venture out cautiously when I open the back door. The overgrown garden is wet, its planting strips and grass walks run together, barely defined, abandoned in this season when rain has defeated my efforts to weed and to tidy.
Late summer wildflowers have bloomed in the heat: masses of yellow coreopsis, a froth of wild blue ageratum, blazing purple stalks of ironweed.
The upper lane is still in deep shade, although the morning sun has finally topped the ridge to warm the lower house and barns.
Ironweed makes an exotic splash of purple towering above a background of jewelweed.
Boneset blooms in the moist ditch that disappears into the culvert at the bend of the lane.
Lavender-blue ageratum flourishes in the shade of fence corners and shallow ditches.
The area below the stable where I fling kitchen scraps and garden waste is not worthy to be labeled a compost heap.
Each summer a tangle of vegetable plants germinate there from a welter of rotting tomatoes or over-ripe cucumbers, a spoiled melon. Vines sprawl across the ground, clamber up the remnant of a fence.
One splendid butternut squash is nearing maturity.
The squash vine has scrambled under the fence. This tiny squash, resting on stony ground will likely be overtaken by frost before it can grow large and ripen.
A squash blossom is a bright splash of color on a morning when rain threatens.
Cucumber or melon? Another volunteer.
Morning glory or 'bindweed' in various mutations is the scourge of gardeners in a warm and humid climate. It clambers over pasture fences, swarms rapaciously through what remains of my perennial strips. Along the lane the flowers are pearly white.
These resemble the cultivated variety Heavenly Blue.
Two years ago, before we sold the big meadow that borders the creek, I collected seeds from a rose-pink morning glory that blanketed the side of a weathered grey barn and grew thickly along the sagging remnant of an old fence. The seeds, planted in a large pot the next spring, obligingly sprouted and vined. The flowers [if they can be called that] were miniscule and white.
Common white bindweed, growing near its blue-flowered cousin.
Jewelweed is in bloom along the brook-bed in the billy goats' pasture.
A bank of it borders the shady lane at our new property spilling into a ravine at the lower edge.
Summer has lingered long this year defying the calendar.
There is more than a week to wait until the autumnal equinox.
Surely by 22nd September, our weather will be more in keeping with our notions of 'fall.'