Husks of Summer

As I wander through the fall landscape at the cabin, the fields and hillsides are covered with the remnants of last summer’s abundant growth: dried stalks, leaves, flowers, berries and seeds.

Rosehips P1030529Everything crackles, snaps and pops as the autumn wind circles through, under and over the fields. The colors are every shade of beige: tawny, russet, sandy and tan. The only bright colors are the red berries of the wild rose bushes (right), a shiny and deep crimson. Last summer’s yellow sulfur flower has seeded into a surprisingly bright  orange and yellow arrangement, while the sage retains a  pale blue color, both in its leaves and berries, which I rub between my fingers and inhale its pungent smell that whispers of windswept plains.

Gentian P1030660I can’t identify all the plants, although I recognize the tall plant in the backyard as the green gentian that blooms in early summer, with pale white flowers flecked with purple strokes. Even though I know that, it’s not easy to correlate the soft petals of June with the tough shell of fall (top photo, in foreground).

I recognize the hull of the blue gentian, partly because it was one of the last flowers to bloom, and I remember where I saw most of them (left, in a bouquet with the sage). And I can identify the skeleton of the fireweed (below), as startling in fall, with its curly translucent seedheads, as in summer with its bright fuchsia colors.

P1030573 (2)Others I’m not sure of. Like the small plants bursting with glowing white seedheads. Or the straw flowers that still retain the shape of its petals and center disc: Are these the purple asters that grew so profusely in August?

Although I miss the color and delicacy of last summer’s flowers, I have to admire their tough skins now, their complex structure and the different ways each plant has produced a perfect basket for the seeds to mature and then disperse into new frontiers.

When I start to look closely at the evolution of each plant from flower to seed, the complexity of life is overwhelming. I could spend a whole lifetime appreciating each plant’s life cycle. I still have much to learn.

In any case, if you see someone on the path shaking a gourd of white seeds and watching the wind spin them into the sky, that’s me appreciating impermanence and the beginning of another season.



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