In one of my favorite short stories, "The Scarlet Ibis," author James
Hurst describes this time of year as the "clove of seasons." For some
reason that image has always appealed to me when I think of the changing
of seasons between summer and fall.
By late July or early August there comes a day I wake up, and it seems
the light has a yellow tinge to it. Apparently,this relates to the tilt
of the earth in relation to its rotation. I know the seasonal split has
begun that day although the calendar says it is more than a month away.
>From that day on, I know that fall is creeping up and, like the
squirrels hoarding nuts, I must hoard and savor the last days of
As a girl, I hated the arrival of autumn. I suppose this feeling had
something to do with school beginning and the end of the carefree days
of a childhood summer. Even more, it meant that the days would shorten
and the green leaves of summer would soon fall, leaving stark branches
silhouetted against gray skies.
Time has a way of muting our strongest feelings, and mine have
certainly altered over the years. By the end of July, I now look
forward to that first autumn tinged day that heralds the cusp of the
seasons. Gardens have begun to look a bit ragged, and the wild flowers
seem to know they have only a short time yet to bloom. Where they were
pastel and fragile only a few months earlier, now their hues deepen into
the brilliant yellows and oranges of sunflowers and gaillardia and the
deep purples of liatrice.
Driving or walking in the country in late summer renders endless
surprises. The plum thickets of early summer now offer a bounty of
brilliant red and magenta plums. Off the grape vines growing in draws
and along creek banks dangle clusters of tiny, tart grapes that make the
best jellies and jams. That is if humans can beat the birds to the
While looking for plum thickets and wild grapes, I spot May's fawns,
now leggy adolescents. Their camouflage spots fade much as the color in
the leaves fades away this time of year. In the same areas, I find
young pheasant and quail, awkward and gawky, as they race about gobbling
the goodies of summer. Somehow, even though they haven't yet wintered,
they seem to know they must feed well before snows fly and ice coats
their favorite food plots.
Even if I didn't see the spiders as they move inside looking to shelter
against the coming harsh weather, I would know they had arrived. I find
their webs high on my walls where they hope to escape wintry blasts. It
seems a huge wolf spider migration begins this time of year, and I find
scads of them in the garage and on the back porch where they hope to
gain entry. They don't understand that I have no intention of providing
a hairy spider wintering ground.
Though the nights will soon be long and tree branches bare and stark,
I now relish this busy time. It realize now the yellow tinged days aren'tan ending.
They provide a time of reflection, a time of preparation, atime to enjoy the end of
one cycle and the beginning of another.