Summer is winding down. It occurs to me that we wait so long for Summer to arrive, that when it does, it steamrolls over us much too quickly, and with myriad conditions — too hot, too cold…too wet, too dry…too slow getting here, too slow leaving. Some of us have been pummeled with cold wet beginnings, others have had summer set in with a bang, bringing with it weeks of drought and scorching temperatures.
Every year, toward the end of March and moving into April, the whispers of the coming season are heard. Impatient after winters that are often long and cold, we can hardly wait for warmer gardening weather until finally, one day, someone posts a photo of those first tiny harbingers of Spring — crocuses, snowdrops, hyacinths — and the race is on. The first Spring Peepers start their welcome chorus. Trays of seedlings appear on blog pages, accompanied by declarations of sightings of bare patches of ground where a hint of green pokes through, the return of the hummingbirds, longer days. And before you know it, we’re seeing photos of brightly coloured pots and containers, carefully edged beds and manicured lawns, and for the very lucky, new decks, paths, or water features are in place.
Then, as quickly as those fleeting first signs appear come the signals that Summer is coasting toward Fall. Roadside wildflowers, once in their prime, have faded and started to go to seed. A second crop of hay has been baled. Once-emerald lawns have started to loose their vibrant green and dead-heading is a constant chore. Butterfly photos grace many a page. Bounty from vegetable gardens, whether small or large, appear on kitchen tables. Cicadas’ song replaces the frog frenzy. Shadows grow longer, nights are cooler. Natures pace becomes less frantic.
Perhaps that’s why I love the night so much: darkness is an equalizer. Similar to the way a fresh fall of snow covers dirty slush and makes the world seem pristine again, night brings a quiet hush and makes the world “season-less” for a few hours.
Our Summer here in Nova Scotia has been less than ideal. We started our gardening season with a cold, wet spring that seemed like it would never morph into pleasant days. And when those warmer days arrived, they came with a vengeance, hot and humid. Though I love Autumn and look forward to crisp morning air and chilled evenings, not to mention the riot of colour with which Nature adorns us, there’s something slightly melancholy about the speed with which Summer disappears. And something just a little maddening. We hardly have a chance to enjoy this season when someone, inevitably, points out that on June 25th, we’re exactly half way between Christmases. Sears Wish Book is already available. Seriously? Give me a break. The kids are hardly out of school before the back-to-school commercials start. It’s all a bit mystifying to me why we’re in such a rush. Rush, rush, rush. We need to slow down to the speed of Life and savour every second of it.
So many people (gardeners among them) speak of this time of year as if we should be out foraging for nuts and berries to lay store for the coming winter. It’s still August, for goodness sake. We’ve another full month of “official” Summer left and many Nova Scotia gardeners will see some of their best blooms in the coming weeks. There’s still life and colour on the front deck, to be sure — let’s let Mother Nature unfold at her own pace and enjoy our garden treasures while we can.