These September days are so beautiful in seasonal transition. During the warm days the light sparkles and the sun follows a descending arc to the south. I notice it every year because raked light illuminates areas of the garden usually held in shade. The contrasts are often as stunning as the nights, which are spectacular with the rising of an autumn moon. Andie and I lie on the bed that stands alongside the large bedroom window and opens to the garden and an easterly view. In the pond two pure white water lilies have folded up their petals as the sky becomes a dark indigo silhouetting the grove of trees surrounding the cottage.
Only a tiny yellow light in a neighbor’s window peeks through the dense foliage, humble in the overwhelming powerful brilliance of the rising moon. Only a sliver at first, peeking through the trees, the moon becomes whole, rises, lifting up and up and as it does, changes the sky color to a silvery teal and casts moonlight on everything below. What a splendid time to go outside and be completely enthralled. Andie sniffs out a cat trail that has led her to investigate under the car. The moon does not animate her at all, while I indulge my Celtic genetic structure, want to paint my body blue and dance a passionate harvest Lughnasadh
The ground is covered with Autumn leaves that ‘crunch’ and ‘crackle’ as Andie and I walk the paths through the garden to scout out future work projects. That wonderful musty fragrance of dry leaves signals the end of Summer. I remember the way burning leaves smelled and whose smoke hovered in the New England air so long ago. Here, tall stalks of blue saliva still wave in the afternoon breezes as the Pacific ocean rolls in to cover our late evenings and mornings with cold, wet fog.
The third blooming of the occasional straggler rose appears now and then. The Peace roses seem most hardy, but not as abundant as the pink oleander, which seem to defy seasons here. One of the rosemary hedges has a blanket of tiny blue flowers on it after I pruned it a couple of weeks ago. I like to scatter the remains on the path because of their fragrance. Andie smells like rosemary for days.
Outside the cottage in our village world, the scent of fermenting grapes and apples can be caught in the rush that is known as ‘crush’. Sugar wasps are delirious with their harvesting frenzies. Grapes define our little world with world class boutique wines and those incredibly delicious Gravenstein apples which make the rather modest Granny Smith’s look and taste like D-list wanna-be’s.
I have always loved this time of year. Andie and I spend more time outdoors now that the heat has subsided. Garden work calls and it is intensive. I takes me five times longer now to do the work, but without any sense of urgency I tend to enjoy it so much more. By pruning early I can get my trees and bushes a growth head-start to begin the next Spring with gusto.
Most evocative for me are the turning of maple leaves, the clusters of blue asters, which remind me of Summer’s end on the Cape, and deep rose colored sedum, which I look forward to in September and October. Figs are ready for harvesting, heirloom tomatoes are abundant in the farmer’s markets and I am thinking once again of tackling the labor-intensive task of making quince jam.
While I am evoking, thinking of autumnal haiku and engaging wabi/sabi as dear old friends, Andie has a more practical bent and continues to deepen and widen the dirt nest under the swing set as a place of repose when not collecting bark bits, pond hyacinths or other attractive ephemera known only to the secret desires of dogs.
Oh no…did you say ‘bath?’