Last year the showy color in our garden was red. This year orange takes a turn, headlined by day lilies and crocosmia.
I stopped prowling the flower garden a week ago, as the narrow patch of lavender paled, the honey bees dispersed, day lilies lost their curtsies, and my favorite—the crocosmia—plunged into an unruliness to rival Phyllis Diller’s hair. But when I went out for a few minutes before lunch today, surrounded by harsh light and quick breezes, one flower didn’t seem to know—or care—that the dance is over for this year, lost to withering heat and the inevitable cycling of seasons.
The majority of my photographic subjects exist in unique little bubbles of time, where the spotlight is both bright and brief.
When I went to explore its secrets yesterday (a daily ritual these past two weeks) I saw that the garden flowers are well into their inevitable summer decline. In a day or two I’ll cede the crocosmias to a pair of hummingbirds who’ve laid an honest claim to that portion of the plot, stop chasing daisies as they play in the breeze (and wilt in the sun), and call on the lilies less often, as they assume the shy countenance of elderly Southern belles.
After the garden loses its allure I’ll look to harvest activities for ready subjects—farmers are beginning to gather up grass seed crops and after that, wheat will be cut. They’re not comparable to flowers, yet combines working in a golden field exhibit a certain gracefulness of their own. Along the edges of fields and in ditches, grasses and thistle will attract my lens, too, along with the goldfinches and butterflies that visit them.
By summer’s end all of this will seem distant, supplanted by newer subjects clamoring for the spotlight as the seasons, and the stage, are set up for the next act.
I brewed a cup of coffee this morning when I arose, and with it in hand went to look out our bedroom window onto the garden, where a bright lily was also awakening to the day. Marine air, combined with a light smoky haze, diffused the early sunlight perfectly for flower photography—but it would quickly burn off. Coffee would wait, as it always does, forgotten in the microwave on what’s become a two-warm-up day.