Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Jerusalem Artichoke

Curley Dock
IN BIRDLAND THE DAYS GROW SHORTER. Mornings are chilly and damp, and often shrouded in fog. The grass has greened up after the long summer's drought, and I still haven't pulled out the mower for that last trim. The palette has shifted again, and now the yard is full of shades of yellow, as if gathering the last bit of golden sun to get us through the winter. Jerusalem Artichoke bursts from the old grain wagon west of the house, and spikes of Goldenrod line the lane. It's not all yellow, though. Two different kinds of wild asters are scattered through the yard. One has bunches of tiny white flowers, like stars bursting from within a bush of delicate greenery. The other has broad leaves and a taller stance with pale lavender-blue flowers, a little bigger than the white ones. All of these come up volunteer in the wild, unmown parts of the yard, but we have some tame flowers, too: a dark pink Sedum from Gayle, who is so generous with her plants. These line my path to the barn and will toast to a rosy russet and then to a rich brown as winter comes. On the path is also a Chrysanthemum of deep burgundy. Its spicy smell reminds me of my grandmother's yard, where they always grew in four colors. Nanny never let me leave her house in the Autumn without taking home a big bunch of Chrysanthemums. She would wrap the stems in damp paper towels and aluminum foil to keep them fresh all the way home.

Autumn Field
 I walk out for a closer look at the sunny flowers towering over the old grain wagon, and I find a Daddy-Long-Legs nestled (kneeling?) in the center of a Jerusalem Artichoke blossom. He is either drinking the dew or munching on the pollen. But it's not all flowers blooming, either. Some are done with all that. The Hollyhocks that bloomed ever higher up the stalk in bright colors all summer long, are now dried seed cases, like little round cheeses wrapped in brown paper, holding next year's flowers in a package. Black-Eyed-Susans are now only the dark eyes, having shed their bright petals to scatter to the wind. The Curly Dock has put up its spikes of intensely brown seeds, and I cut these to add depth to a bouquet and offset the bright colors of the flowers, or to hang upside-down in the parakeets' cage for a treat.
Black Eyed Susans are all eyes

Gayle's Sedum
 The fields are drying, too, and Jim and Sean have cut most of the corn. My walk down the grass waterway is still green, but no longer sheltered with walls of corn on each side. Now, instead I can see clear to the fence-line and beyond. I suppose anyone can see me now, too, walking down the green road with my black dog. I kind of miss my sheltered lane, but it will come and go away again, as do all things in Birdland. The beans are drying to a pale brown, and will soon be dry stubble in the field.

Tonight it's windy, and a sliver of crescent moon hangs over the bean field. It is low and vast against the dark sky, like the silver earring of an immense Goddess. Tonight I feel a little lonely, thinking about the fading summer and the coming winter. The Autumn will wisely lead us to Winter with her gifts of nuts and apples and wood smoke and sweaters and cozy evenings with friends.

Preserve Beauty; Affirm Peace; Blessed Be.

Hollyhocks Gone to Seed

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