Summer’s End

By: Anne Corke

Sep 06 2011

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Category: Gardening, Photography, Rural Landscapes, Rural Nature

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Focal Length:39.7mm
Shutter:1/0 sec

It’s September. Although summer has not officially ended, the children are back to school and the flower beds are looking a bit bedraggled. The mornings are a bit darker and evening walks have had to be rescheduled as twilight no longer lingers as it does in summer. I have a few daylilies still blooming, Autumn Minaret, Jersey Spider, Happy Returns, Frans Hal and Pennysworth. The hybrid coneflowers have already set seed much to the delight of the goldfinches, but the common purple variety is still producing flowers. The butterfly weed are blooming a second time, probably due to the above average temperatures. It’s rather strange to see bright orange flowers and fluffy seeds bursting from ripened seedpods side by side on the same plant! And there are flowers on the tomato plants as we are picking the mature fruit for BLTs! On the north side of the house, the pink turtleheads are blooming. (Incidentally, the native white turtlehead can be found along the rail trail in Jackson Park.) “New Dawn” rose continues to bloom as it will ’til frost, the soft pink flowers mingling with the seedheads of the sea holly and the spent scapes of daylilies. Across the road, the field is overrun with goldenrod. What a pretty picture it makes with the first coloured leaves of the scrub brush along the road and the dark green of the Austrian pines on the hill. Soon the heavy autumn dews will fall on the spiders’ webs in the field, creating sparkling geometric forms, luring me and my camera into the knee-high grasses in the cool, damp morning. Already we are seeing, and hearing, flocks of squawking, scavenging blackbirds wheeling across the sky, alighting briefly in the trees along the fence row only to suddenly rise again in a noisy mob. Vees of geese have been practising their formation flying as they move from one corn field to another to feed and fatten up for the long journey ahead. By the end of the month, our cheeky little hummingbirds will desert us for warmer climes. Several of them have been fighting over the two feeders in the backyard, waiting in the gingko tree to ambush one another, threatening one another with squeaky chirps, divebombing the feeder to discourage the competition (though I make a point of keeping the feeders full for them). They spend far more time chasing each other than they do feeding! Their bold personalities belie their diminutive size and I think I will miss them more than any of the other summer birds. I have read lately that insect-eating birds are on the decline, and my observations would unfortunately confirm this. Usually we have dozens of tree swallows swooping around the neighbourhood, and often several pairs nesting in local birdhouses. This summer we have seen very few, and fewer still barn swallows. I hope that this is just a down cycle for them and that they will return next spring in more normal numbers. (I can’t say that I’ve noticed any decline in the insect population, at least not in the numbers of mosquitoes which continue to make outdoor life miserable even this late in the year!) And so, fall is approaching, that season of brilliant blue skies, fabulous foliage and crisp cool air! It’s been a great summer. Let’s hope that fall lingers on into November!

Copyright 2011 Anne Corke

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