The morrow was a bright September morn;
The earth was beautiful as if new-born;
There was that nameless splendor everywhere,
That wild exhilaration in the air,
Which makes the passers in the city street
Congratulate each other as they meet.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn
I heard an unusually big sound of wings between me and the creek this morning, and looked up to see a pair of Bald Eagles!! I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen this bird before ever, and were they actually right here a few steps from my own house?
Yes, they were. They were leaving the branches of a tree as I walked by, and flew low through the creek bed a little farther, lit again briefly, and then lifted up into the blue sky above me where I got a movie with my phone, of them circling around me and the treetops. They are not too high and small in the movie to recognize their markings and confirm who they are. I can’t get over my astonishment, but I don’t mind it hanging on to me longer….
Also down by the creek many of the trees have colonies of mistletoe like this. One day I counted several dozen “decorated” trees, and when I went back in the evening the light was perfect for documenting the clumps that I normally don’t pay attention to.
Much prettier sights are also to be seen looking up:
I heard a lovely choral Christmas concert performed in our church last week. Beforehand all the electric lights were turned on, and looking up there one could see the dome brightly even though it was night! For the winter liturgical services we still only use candles, even at night, so it was different to get this view:
I have started cleaning up the garden in preparation for the dormant season. The sunflowers are still blooming, but I don’t want to wait until a frost hits to try to stuff them all in the bin, so I am filling it with sunflowers weekly. These Delta Sunflowers are the best! The birds adore them, too — Every time I go out the front door, a dozen are under the thicket, where a million seeds must have fallen by now and are still dropping.
I brought in the last bouquet:
In the back garden, Christmas is more obviously on the way!
I wanted to go walking on the earth this morning. It was still dark when sleep left me, so I waited a little while, and put some water in the fountain, and saw a perfect half moon in the seemingly illimitable sky. It had rained in the night and the air was damp and cool, but not at all cold.
I walked half a block, and looking east, I saw the prelude to the sun’s birthday.
Along the redwood-lined path, I sniffed the woodsy scent; I walked along the mowed hayfield where the essence of sage-y weeds was carried in the humidity. And then along the creek, with swampy smells wafting across the way.
And the sky! It was big. God was big and so rich toward me, in His earth and creation, His presence. My senses were not adequate to the feast and I knew I would be drunk before breakfast. Glory to God in the highest! It was the birthday of (my) life and love.
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings; and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any – lifted from the no
of all nothing – human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
My Delta Sunflowers are big, and as they grow tall they break and fall over, so I have cut some, and made tangled and droopy bouquets that seem to be better suited to the patio table than the kitchen counter, where the flowers hung down and dropped little piles of pollen on the stone, on the appliances, whatever.
The lamb’s ears need thinning. My two species are so different! Here are the new ones, after cleaning up, in the front yard:
And here are the old survivors that keep growing just as vigorously, and even make flowers. But they look scraggly by comparison. I have to love my old vintage ears more; because they are thinner and gangly, they don’t make a convenient nest for the earwigs the way the fat and lush ones did this summer:
I found plums on the Elephant Heart Plum trees after all. First I spied one on the ground from the kitchen window: “Hey! That’s a plum!” So I went out right away and picked it up, and rummaged through the two trees to see if I had missed any others. I found three more fruits that didn’t seem to be quite ripe, hiding very effectively. So I ate the one that had fallen, and it was yummy. Since then I’ve been out twice to check on the other three, and they are nowhere to be found.
But our recent heat-smoke-humidity wave has started my figs ripening. This was the first one, which I discovered on the day when it had overnight turned from green to black. After taking its picture, I ate it, and it was everything a fig should be: juicy and sweet and more refreshing than a glass of water.
This is tasting touching hearing seeing breathing – yes.
Sunflowers, Sungold tomatoes, baby figs and basil and hollyhocks – It’s summertime! I’ve been feeling it, and seeing the effects of heat.
First, the bad news: My beloved osmanthus/Sweet Olive could not transition to life without lawn water, and was ultimately killed by years of drought. Below is the last scene of its root ball being rolled into a truck. I will never forget this Garden Friend who gave me so much joy. If I ever live where it rains in the summer I will plant another one as soon as I move in!
Let’s get this next unpleasant picture out of the way, too, of Puncture Vine – the bane of my childhood bicycle tires and bare feet! This particular one was growing in the Central Valley, but I also saw some of this weed in my neighborhood yesterday! Its stickery seeds are certainly a product of summer sun.
I’ve picked so many green beans, I was able to make two batches of Turkish Green Beans, a great luxury. This dish freezes so well, it’s ideal for using up the basketsful you get at peak of harvest. The evening that I was preparing the beans was one of those sweet times in summer, when the breeze and the neighborhood sounds of birds and wind chimes and happy voices are coming through the open window, the kitchen window, and I am satisfied and content, having made good use of my garden, at least this week.
All the carrots I harvested had been stashed in the fridge and I eventually made some coconutty soup with them.
There is one exciting thing that happened in my garden that is less directly related to the power of sunshine, and that is the hatching of bluebirds in the birdhouse! I had never seen a bluebird before, but I’d bought a bluebird house, and other people who did that got bluebirds where they’d never seen them before, either. So…
Last spring chickadees nested there, and they might have again if I had thought to clean out the house. They checked it out this year and found their old nest all soggy, and departed. I cleaned out the house, and next thing you know, there are bluebirds nesting in it!!! I took a few pictures and videos of them growing up, until the parents began dive-bombing me, and I left on a trip. This early one is the best that is a still shot. And now they have flown!
Even when I am lazing about in the mountains or hanging out with my children in faraway places, people like Kit keep making use of the sunshine and flora of summertime to make welcome-home bouquets like this:
When it was Kit’s birthday I cut some Queen Anne’s Lace at the creek and put the stems in different colors of water. The red and the green had an effect, but the blue did nothing.
Last and mostest, the Delta Sunflowers! They have passed eight feet tall now, and I can’t get in between the side branches to get an exact measurement. The poor things are like gangly teenagers, growing so fast and lanky that their lower branches snap off and lie down, but so far the sap is getting through by some means and those stems aren’t wilting.
I feel very proud of them when I come home in my car or from a walk, the way their exuberance displays the best of summer and the power of the sunshine.