THE SWEET LAZY DAYS of late summer are suddenly upon us, and my mind is a stew of upcoming plans and things to be done. Marketing ideas for The Walled Garden, drafting scenes and figuring out the structure of The Summerhouse (working title for my new WIP!), and most of all, plans for our long-awaited trip to England and France, not to mention the things that absolutely MUST be done in the garden (and the house!) before we leave.
There’s something so nostalgic about this time of year–this slide from summer into fall always feels bittersweet to me. As a student, I welcomed it, because I much preferred the fun and challenges of friends and new classes to whatever sweaty berryfield I’d spent the summer in. When I had school-age children of my own, I found it bittersweet for different reasons—because the carefree, unstructured days of summer were about to be overtaken by the routines and demands of school.
For several years, when our kids were little, my friend Becky and I would get together in late summer for a last vacation with our families. While the kids played on the beach, she and I would seriously consider whether our inner cores had been sufficiently warmed by our not-always-sunny PNW summers to survive the rigors of fall: the rush of back-to-school, all four of our children’s fall birthdays, activities, Halloween costumes, and ultimately, the holidays. I still do that kind of mental check-in about the quality of the summer. (Summer 2022, though late getting started here, gets a thumbs up!)
But this time of year, I think it’s the garden I’m most nostalgic for–because I know it can’t last. The roses are in their second bloom (not a terribly robust one since I never got around to fertilizing them), and I’m still picking a small bouquet of sweet peas almost every other day. But the dark orange crocosmia, always a harbinger of late summer, are already bloomed out, and the paler orange sherbet ones are barely hanging on. The rosehips are already starting to blush reddish-orange, and my white Japanese anemones, another herald of late summer, are waving on their tall, graceful stems all over the garden. I’ve even come across a few small, crispy red leaves scattered on the lawn.
Sadly, for unknown reasons (maybe the spring was too cold—?) my damson tree has only a meager crop of plums this year. Though I’m definitely tired of dragging hoses around to water my sweet peas and my pots on the deck, and part of me secretly longs for the first really crisp fall evening, I’m still reluctant to say goodbye to summer.
When summer begins, I always have the feeling that the sky is the limit. I could do anything—the sewing projects I’m always dreaming up, the watercolors I’ll paint in the garden every morning, the perfect summer dinners I’ll make. And then, when I come to late August, I feel nostalgic for all the things I dreamed of doing that didn’t get done, and I have to let go of those dreams (till next year at least) and move on.
I gave my heroine, Lucy Silver, my love of the seasons in The Walled Garden:
No matter how much she wants to, she can’t put the leaves back on the trees or make the flowers keep blooming. But that’s the gift of the garden, she realizes–that it is always changing and will never change. The fallen leaf will always be followed by the bare branch, and the bare branch by the green buds, eventually culminating in the lush flowering of summer and the fruits of autumn. The leaf, the branch, the bud, the flower, and the fruit are all coming into being and passing away, driven by an energy that will never alter in its able-to-be-anticipated rhythm.
Since I’ve decided not to take my laptop to Europe with me, I’ll be taking a brief break from this blog in September. Look for my next post around the second week of October—I’m already looking forward to sharing some of my traveling adventures with you!
After all, as my literary patron saint, Jane Austen, says, “If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.”
I hope you have a wonderful September filled with autumnal adventures!
Garden photo my own