Monday, September 7, 2015

PARTING SHOTS – Images of Late Summer

It's been a spectacular summer here in Minnesota. Blessed with warm days, yet very few 95-degree steam-bath stinkers we usually sweat our way through. Blessed with both ample sunshine and sufficient rain to keep most everything lush long after it usually wilts and turns brown—and to keep river levels high enough so I could navigate my favorite backwaters without my having to drag my canoe over mud flats and sand bars.

PHOTO: Phil Champion - 

Hard to believe, isn't it, that just four months ago we were watching anxiously for the arrival of some sign, any sign, that another long, cold, grey winter was releasing its grip on the ground—and our spirits.

Eventually, though, summer did manage to take hold as it always does, and the profusion of rich, saturated color 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, the ravishing yellow-orange of goldenrod!

  I made up my see all these wonders 
  as if I'd never seen anything like them before.

But no sooner had this glorious season started than I could hear it ticking away. I made up my mind—as my posts here on One Man's Wonder and in the social media implore—to soak it all in, to see all these wonders of color, texture and pattern as if I'd never seen anything like them before. And I think I've done a pretty good job of it; I must have stopped a thousand times, as it were, to smell the roses.

But suddenly here we are; another Labor Day. The State Fair ends today, 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, have started to thin and shrivel. Everything else too—with the exception of those good old late-season standbys, like zinnia and chrysanthemum—seems 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 these 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 2015 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


jean said...

I love the photos, Jeff. Looks like you have a little more color to enjoy before the first snowfall :). I live in the south, land of the hot and humid summers, so by the time we have our first few cool days, I am beyond ready for them! But it is not fair to compare our winters with yours----I have a friend in St. Paul so I get the full snow report and spring envy from her!. We have little signs of life even in the dead of winter. Pansies bloom even in the cold weather and winter jasmine adds a lovely dash of color to a drab landscape. We start to see the Bradford Pears and the cherry trees beginning to bud in late February and then in March, the earth seems to burst into bloom all at once! My friend gives me the snow report and I give her the flower and tree report. But she does speak of lovely summers that are worth waiting for!
Glad you are keeping your eyes wide open, Jeff! There is SO MUCH to see in ALL seasons!

Jeffrey Willius said...

You are so nice, Jean. I really appreciate being in touch with you and hearing about Nature in your neck of the woods. Though I try to make the most of winter up here, I must say, I'm becoming less and less a fan of it, and start dreaming in late Aug. about chances to get away to warmer climes.

jean said...

I don't blame you one bit, Jeff! Your trips to Mexico look like visits to Heaven to me! :)

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