Thoughts & Sketches

Welcome to Sunday, a time of thoughtful reflection and last chance to get the vacuuming and dusting finished. And even though it’s hot (a sunny 86 F at the moment), I like to spend some time out in the backyard, taking in the colors of the gardens in this last part of summer. Surrounded by nature, I’m inspired to dream… write… draw…

Athena joins me on the back patio. The sandy flagstones are perfect for back scratching, and under the table, they’re cool enough for an afternoon nap.The flower patch along the back fence is looking especially cheerly this afternoon. It’s the breeze that does it. Not too much; not too little. Just enough to make the flowers nod and sway, just enough to make the cottonwoods wave hello, and just enough to create the soft, soothing, swoosh sound as it swirls its way through the branches. A dry, light breeze is a rare gift in the middle of August.

This is the month when the butterflies come. We plant milkweed (four varieties!), bee balm, dill, parsley, fennel, and an assortment of flowers, hoping to entice them into our yard. We don’t see too many early in the summer, and about mid-July I usually decide that we’re not in the fly zone this year. But in August, they arrive.

We see many black swallowtails, a few monarchs, and lots of skippers. The tiger swallowtail is rarely seen, but all the more exciting when one does make an appearance. They all love the zinnias! Even though the monarchs visit, there are not as many as I expect, and I do think that our yard is not on their usual route. We have the milkweed ready, just in case!Athena has moved out into the corner garden, finding another shady spot under the wisteria where she can keep watch and not be bothered. 

For me, I’ll spend some more quality Sunday time gazing out at the gardens, watching butterflies… writing… drawing…

A Preview of Fall

August 27, 2017 – The morning is cool and clear. The air is light–unusual for August in the midwest. The crickets are still singing even though the suns’s light is creeping over the trees in the east. Before long, cricket song is slowly drowned out by cardinals “chipping” and squirrels scolding as the morning brightens and warms.

Athena, our visiting cat, pads softly across the back deck, heading out to the birdbaths for a quick drink.













Inside, Duncan monitors her movements closely. 

Athena and Duncan don’t get along, but I hope they will work out their differences eventually. But for now, there is much muttering and hissing as the “conversation” moves from window to window.

The sun is up beyond the trees now, and the bright light reveals a late summer garden, somewhat rejuvenated by the recent cool weather. The usual August heat is a harsh reality for the flowers and vegetables. Everything wilts by midday, and there is no energy left for growth… only survival. The bugs seize the opportunity to really wage an all out attack on the vulnerable leaves and petals. Squash borers weaken stems and stalks, and the yellow and black spotted cucumber beetles chew away at the beautiful green leaves. Even the tough prairie plants, with their deep, deep roots, look pale and tired. At this point, it seems like it’s time to wrap up the gardening for another year.

But, the resilience of Nature is not to be underestimated. On this morning’s garden walk, I notice a renewed vibrance in the greenery and a freshness to the flowers. Next to a dried, chewed stalk, a new green tomato hangs quietly, and young green leaves and small yellow flowers hold the promise of more to come. The fallen seeds of bolted  cilantro have sprouted and reach for the sun.

The zinnias look refreshed and ready to face the rest of the summer. Just a small preview of fall is a real boost to the heart and soul of the garden, not to mention the gardener. 🌱