Sunday, August 19, 2012

Promises, Promises

I am always restless in August. My children tell me I go through this every year, sometimes earlier in the month, sometimes later. I think it has to do with being on the cusp of the seasonal change. The madness of summer is winding down, and I become impatient for the cooler temperatures and crisp days that make sketching in the field so enjoyable. I long to open the windows and breath soil-scented air instead of the artificial stuff, and I eagerly await the sound of geese honking in the night sky as they migrate overhead.

Fall is gently nudging summer to wrap it up, elbowing in to take its place. I awaken to that glorious change of light in the morning, its tendrils already crossing the line at the Crooked Little House. My neighborhood is quieter as visitors thin out, heading back to their own version of Autumn. My bird houses are now vacant for the first time since March, and the usual blue jay perches in the mimosa, screaming, "Mine".

The trumpet vine is sporting freckled, yellowed leaves and wilted blooms to the disappointment of the bumble bees, ants and leaf footed bugs. Large, pea-colored pods dangle down through the overhead lattice, ripening inside, eventually turning into umber colored vessels that will one day split open and release another generation.

And when everything else seems to be winding down, my moon flower vine by the front door now claims its own season, and I see the beginnings of buds forming. The small, conical sculptures grow when no one is watching, in the middle of the night. I noticed just this morning they had grown almost an inch overnight. Every evening through late fall, I will be treated to one or two, dinner-plate sized, white blossoms. By morning they will be wilted and slack. Its last event will be forming the beautiful pods, full of milk white seeds for me to collect and replant next year.

My mimosa tree now has its seed pods strung like fresh laundry from its branches, some still green, others already turning cardboard brown. They too will soon become paper-thin before spilling their bounty to the soil below. I love going to bed late at night with the windows open, listening to the mimosa pods rattling like tiny bones in the darkness.

It seems I always find lots of dead butterflies this time of year, their lives spent in a flurry of summer activity. I'm amazed at how torn and tattered their wings are yet they were still able to fly. Perhaps that's a good lesson for me: becoming a bit worn and tattered doesn't mean my season has ended. It's more a sign of a life well-lived don't you think?

And so, as Joni Mitchell sings, the circle game continues, and each spent leaf or seed will reconnect with everything else and begin again in the spring. Ah, but there are joyous Autumn days ahead, leading to one of my favorite seasons, Winter, with treasures all its own. But that's for a distant time.

I placed this angel, a recent find at a local thrift store, under my wild cherry tree. Her wings make a perfect place for sunflower seeds when the weather turns colder and birds will appreciate a handout.

As a child I walked with noisy finger
along the hemline of so many meadows back home,
green fabric stretched out,
shy earth
shock of sky.
I'd sit on logs like pulpits,
listen to the sermon of sparrows
and find God in Simplicity,
there amongst the dandelions and thorn.

                      - Jewel Kilcher


  1. Excellent summary. I feel that urge for a change of season too. Morning the loss of summer though it's still here.

  2. What a beautifully written post, Elizabeth! I especially loved the simile of the seed pods being hanging laundry. I am also deeply anticipating the fall season (and winter is my favorite too!)I loved your sketchbook entries- thank you for sharing!