Tuesday, October 2, 2012

End of Summer Glare

I love it. I love the first touch of fall because it means my summer suffering is almost over.  I know it sounds odd, ungrateful, or just plain stupid coming from someone living under sheets of wet and grey for several months out of the year, but summer gets old fast. Unblinking, it insists we look it squarely in the face and rejoice.  Yeah, well, not what I moved up North for.  I'm grateful on behalf of my tomatoes.  That's about it. Too flat. The light is too flat. Shadows too sharp. Summer presses down on the brain, squishing thought, expelling romance.  A big, dumb grin of peonies and ox-eye daisies. 

Anemone hupehensis 'Prince Henry'
OK, maybe summer isn't THAT bad.   Tactless, promiscuous.  But throws a good party.  And many flowers that are said to bloom in fall, actually begin in late summer. Anemones come for the party in July, but stay late for the long talks in September.  I swear they look different this time of year, more intelligent, less perky.  Even a little pensive.  Bonjour Tristesse?  

I originally planted a Blue Mist (or Blue Beard) shrub for fall flowers.  But when it first bloomed, I kept saying, "That's it?  That's all there is?  Just little patches of blue bumps along a stem?"  But softer light, nerves steeled against the constant blanket of bees, and a macro lens bring out the turquoise anthers waving above those purple petals and the blue-green leaves.  An animated boutonniere. 

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Dark Knight'
Even the unfortunately named "Leadwort" takes on a bit of glamour in the long, autumn light.  Like the peach-colored light bulbs used at the Moulin Rouge because they improve the look of women's skin (or so I've heard), flowers opening against a background of browns, reds and oranges have a kind of glow.

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

The beginning of fall brings the last days of Chinese Astilbes.  Thanks to a friend who gave me two or three, I went from having the equivalent of a decorative throw-rug to wall-to-wall carpeting.  But it's now that I appreciate them most, when only a few resist brown for a moment more.  Improbable details of color I couldn't see in the summer glare.

Astilbe chinensis
 But fall hasn't taken taken off her coat just yet.  It's only the dawn of October; the woods still wait.

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