Monday, September 10, 2018

Summer Ending

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.'


  1. The awful humidity continues here too. The wind from the southeast is so warm and damp. I'm thinking will continue awhile until the worst of the hurricane season is over.

    1. Phil; This is our 9th summer in Kentucky--all have been a bit different weather-wise, but we've learned to expect heat and humidity. Usually we get a break of a few clear and cooler days--didn't happen this year. A difficult summer for gardening--the weeds have loved it!

  2. Your photos and your word pictures inspire me, - we have had a summer of wildfires and smoky days, - some days so socked in that it was impossible to see the mountain on the other side of our narrow valley. Today was a wonderful harbinger of fall, and I look forward to finding my inspiration a little closer to home!

    1. Hildred; Summers in Wyoming always brought the bane of smoke from fires, often those considerably west and north of us. I remember bringing in towels and sheets from the wash line and realizing they smelled of charred sagebrush.
      Spurts of inspiration are so welcome--then one must find the energy to act upon them!

  3. Another great Morning Minion post! The telling is so vivid...I am right there with the first rays of a new day. Many of your native plants we have here, but some I am not familiar with. I must research these.

    1. Chip; I researched the yellow flowers several times online--I'm pretty sure coreopsis is correct although I can't refine it to one of several varieties. Goldenrod and ironweed are always recognizable. I greatly miss New England Asters--I've planted cultivated forms which haven't thrived for more than one or two seasons.

  4. I don't envy you your heat and humidity. It does my asthma no favours at all. However, whilst we have had almost daily rain of varying intensities all through August and into September, I am not complaining as at least I can do things needing energy without melting!

    I hope that your new garden will become more managable once it is planted and growing on a bit, but that's really thinking ahead isn't it?! At least, starting from scratch, you will have things growing where they are intended. . . . one hopes!

    1. Jennie; I keep wandering out to gaze at the over-grown garden strips and wishing I could leave them in better order. We won't be in residence for the October weather when I usually plan to tidy the garden. Like you, I have been defeated by a long summer of heat and rain.
      I do have some cherished plants in big pots, hoping I can winter them over and place in the new 'from scratch' garden.

  5. I love the idea of veg just springing out of the compost heap, my kind of gardening, lol
    The morning glory is sold as a garden plant over here, I guess it doesn't swamp everything like yours as the weather isn't as good.

    1. Briony; Morning glory seeds are sold here and some of the heirloom varieties seem to be in demand. They are so 'naturalized' that I wonder if the seeds escape from civilized gardens and cross to make new 'sports.'
      they are certainly in the category of plant 'thugs!'
      I find it interesting that when we have planted butternut squash in the garden it is often beset by insect pests or blight--but it flourishes in the messy compost heap!

  6. We are in coastal Maine just now having left our cozy patch in southwestern Vermont in the capable hands of a dear friend. So much for the fabulous September weather! It has been rainy and/or cloudy since we arrived. Tonight the western sky is ablaze. Gorgeous and banking on the adage of 'red sky at night is sailor's delight'......we'll see.

    A sliver of a moon just poked out from the clouds.....there is a God!

    i am hoping that you two aren't in the direct path of The Rains of Florence. Be safe and Be dry!

    1. Mundi; I think this would be an ideal time for a stay in coastal Maine--crisp fall days should be happening there. When we lived in Vermont my favorite vacation destination was the Canadian Maritimes--never too far from the sea at any point. I hope it hasn't changed too much in the past few decades--clean overnight cabins, cozy tea shops with homemade food--nothing too crowded or touristy.
      Surely by the time you return to southern Vermont the leaves will be coloring and evenings may have a nip of frost.
      We don't expect much hurricane damage, being far inland, but there could be significant wind and rain. If we lose power for awhile, we'll fire up the wood stove to cook our meals.

  7. Humidity has been worse this past week. I'll be glad when hurricane season is over and the heat and humidity are gone.

    Have a nice Friday and a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; Hurricane season in Florida has to be a tense time of waiting and praying for safety. Heat and humidity seem to be a given there--what did folks ever do before A/C became more common?
      Be safe 'til the storm passes by!'