Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Summer arrived late in Minnesota this year. Our tougher than usual winter seemed to drag on till mid-June, as if ten feet of ground frost were slowly seeping out. With days still cool and wet, rivers stayed high, gardeners put off their much-anticipated plantings, and muddy fields threatened to swallow tractors whole.

PHOTO: Phil Champion - http://www.philchampion.co.uk/

Eventually, though, summer did manage to take hold as it always does, and the profusion of rich, saturated color, though a few weeks late, sprouted and spread over the grateful landscape. How I love all those shades of breathing green, the blankets of true, dense blue from early-blooming Siberian squill, the piercing reds of geranium and canna!

I made up my mind...to see all these wonders of color, texture and pattern as if I'd never seen anything like them before.

As this shortish summer strove to make up for lost time, I made up my mind—as my posts here on One Man's Wonder and in the social media implore—to see all these wonders of color, texture and pattern as if I'd never seen anything like them before. Perhaps it was the fact of that imploring that helped me to do exactly that. I must have stopped a thousand times, as it were, to smell the roses.

But suddenly here we are; another Labor Day is history, the State Fair's come and gone, and ragweed's got me stuffing my pockets with Kleenex. At least symbolically, summer is over. Our window box plantings sense the cooler, drier air and, seeing right through our best efforts to fool them into thinking it's still June, are starting to thin and shrivel. Everything else too—with the exception of that good old fall standby, the chrysanthemum—seems just about on its last legs.

So, as I set out on my walk along the Mississippi yesterday, I was feeling kind of melancholy, almost anticipating an experience of loss. I was already mourning all the shrinking, browning plants and spent flowers I knew I'd come across. What made me even more blue was the looming prospect of five or six months devoid of all that fresh, living, breathing color.

At least I'd have these poor excuses for the real thing to...comfort my color-starved soul till tiny buds pop once again.

Of course, this wasn't at all what I found. Summer is indeed still alive here in growing zone four. But, as if to convince myself of this, I brought my camera. At the very least, I figured, that would help me notice and appreciate even more the resolute colors of late summer.

What's more, even if the dead of winter were somehow to slam down on us tomorrow, at least I'd have these poor excuses for the real thing to document the fleeting summer of 2011 and comfort my color-starved soul till tiny buds pop once again.

I hope you'll forgive the indulgence.

PHOTOS THIS GROUP: Jeffrey D. Willius


Debi said...

Beautiful pictures! You know as much as I love fall, I always wish summer's sweetness would linger just a while longer. I'm trying to learn to have that same feeling for each of the seasons. I think creating special memories to go along with each of them might help. Somehow, summer seems to get all the fun!

Jeffrey Willius said...

Hi Debi - I should follow your lead and try to do a better job of embracing the rest of the seasons. We'll see how that goes come mid-January ;-)

Anonymous said...

Jeff, your pictures are beautiful.
Inasmuch as I like using my Nikon point and shoot digital, I recently bought a Nikon D3100; thus, I eagerly anticipate capturing the beauty of the seasons here in Azerbaijan.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Hey JHM - Thanks for the compliment! I hope you'll share those shots -- I've enjoyed those you've been posting now and then.

Olivia said...

Jeff, these pictures are great! I have to say, there's no clinging to summer here--fall is my favorite!

Jeffrey Willius said...

Hi Olivia - I was just trying to share your Plant Press post, but FB quit on me!
Thanks for the comment. Yes, I know lots of folks who love fall. Of course, I find much that's wondrous in any season, but still can't help loving the color, the smells, the air, the palpable sense of promise of spring/summer.
I know you'll enjoy fall!

Grace said...

I like the Siberian squill, but where it naturalizes well, does it become invasive? If not, I may have to get some.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Hi Grace -- Thanks for the comment! I'm no expert on squill, but it appears to spread like a bright blue blanket across people's lawns. It's gone in a few weeks and seems not to interfere with the grass. I don't think it's considered "invasive."

Grace said...

Great, I'll have keep my eye out for it . . . and check that it will survive in my zone.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Grace: You're in Nova Scotia, right? Don't know the growing zones there, but I think since it's called Siberian, and since it grows nicely here in MN, it should be good for at least zone 3.

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