Autumn, Closing In

Tall grasses stand listless in the late summer heat, oblivious to breezes. After hosting broods of house wrens and white-breasted nuthatches the garden has gone silent—a defiant Cardinal flower, flanked by a committee of coreopsis, petunias, zinnias, and gerbera daisies, still lingers there hopefully. American goldfinch are fading away in-step with thistles and their neighbor, the blackberry, which contributed to a recent tasty cobbler. We saw hummingbirds yesterday morning, and a lazuli bunting came to the deck in the evening, but the urge to migrate southward will shortly become irresistible to them. Western tanagers, it appears, have already left. Pointless, perhaps, but I wish them a safe journey.

The hills have been smothered by hazy smoke drifting into the valley from a mountain wildfire, and in this atmosphere I can easily recall Nat King Cole’s 1963 version of Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer, and the tantalizing ding-a-ling down the street announcing the approach of Mr. Softee’s ice cream truck, and dusty baseball practices, and the carefree feeling of being young without apparent worries. That was also the time when I realized I had no penchant for bean picking, and first considered girls seriously.

As it did then, autumn will soon break up summertime reveries. The canopy of oak leaves above our house will change from shade to chore, although I’ll give the rake a rest and mow them to mulch this year. And because everyone believes Oregon is rainy for most of the year, we’ll have some of that too. Like their spring counterparts, gentle September showers are a perfect soundtrack for reflecting on things.


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