No matter my efforts to cling to the last of August, September happened last week in a flurry of back-to-school excitement. For weeks it’s been summer hot, and so dry, but change is upon us.
Recently we woke to the first morning fog in months, geese gather on the shore heading south, squirrels knock hazelnuts out of trees, and a neighbor who heats with wood has already stacked a mountain of delivered wood into her tidy shed. A scatter of leaves on sidewalks crunches underfoot from drought, and bramble leaves turn red.
The pumpkins, which had such a hard go in the cold and wet early spring, finally show some orange. They may not get their required 110 days to be pie ready, but each day more of their huge yellow blossoms open defiantly – late season beauty and color swarming with bees.
Being much inclined to leave seedheads this year (and in truth having missed a lot of deadheading), I’ve watched a small wren pry open the sweet pea pods. They seem large seeds for such a tiny bird – maybe it seeks insects within.
And now, verges and rights-of-way enrich my walks with the proliferation of seedheads and shapely dried stalks of grasses and, yes, weeds as they prepare for next year. The filagree blossoms of Queen Anne’s lace close on fists of seeds held high, and the puff balls of hawkweed scatter in the wind. All these small wild places, the ones that matter to the natural world have caught my attention this summer (probably belatedly). But it seems like our thinking changes about the importance of such spaces and how we might provide them.
I’ve been aware of the attempts by municipalities and large gardens to make meadows supporting pollinators and creating visual interest – and the efforts of homeowners to get away from the monocrop of level lawn and embrace “No Mow May.” A nearby neighbor began early in the season to cut only around the edges of his lawn – and a path through. Each day I walked by to see what appeared in a formerly green blank.
This fall I want to scatter and dig in many small bulbs in our tiny bit of lawn – anemone blanda, species tulips, small narcissus to naturalize – and then let the grass and weeds grow next spring and see what happens.
I suppose that’s a huge part of the changing season – planning new beginnings!