Sometimes I find myself straddling a fence both literally and figuratively. With my left leg on one side of barbed wire and my right on the other while I maintain control of that top strand, I pause to look both ways and consider which is best. What am I leaving and where am I going? The cusp of summer and fall generate similar thoughts.
As a kid, I loved long summer days that meant playing Marco Polo and diving to exhaustion at the local pool, followed by evening games of tag and hide and seek. Even after streetlights flickered on, sounds of kids hollering, “You’re it!” echoed throughout our sheltered cul-de-sac. While mowing required sweat, it also meant immersion in the scent of fresh cut grass. After the shearing, it meant a barefoot massage as we walked over the carpet of stubbly lawn. So much sensory delight only made me love summer more.
As an adult, summer remained my favorite season for years. I relished long days out of doors, only now I hoed, planted, weeded, or harvested ripe vegetables. Depending on the month, it meant picking cherries, chokecherries, apricots, pears, plums, grapes, or apples and then playing kitchen alchemist to turn them into jelly jewels. It permitted watching fireflies dance across the yard and hearing little ones giggle as they tried to capture them. It was enjoying late night amphibian and insect orchestral productions.
Time passed, and I changed. As a result, instead of dreading autumn, I now anticipate it. Through the years, I’ve learned each equinox intensifies those numbered days. At the beginning of summer, it seems I have forever to accomplish goals. When day and night are equal, I appreciate each moment in my garden and yard because I know a single frost will soon end the growing season.
Nature’s music sounds different as birds and insects prepare for southern journeys. No longer do I hear mothers coaching young ones out of the nest. Locust tunes are slow and lazy if they occur at all. Toad and frog mating calls cease while silent fireflies that performed to the other creatures’ refrains are buried larvae awaiting resurrection.
I visit our hilltop garden several times a day to see how the butternuts are curing and how this last tomato crop is finishing. I loved reading about how Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family stored provisions for winter, so putting away golden squash and carrots to eat in the coming months connects me to her pioneer stories. Green tomatoes make great fried treats and relishes. If there are enough big ones, I box them to mature so we have garden goodies well into December.
Each day, I walk through our pasture enjoying the blooms of Maximilian sunflowers, golden rod, and snow on the mountain. Tawny buffalo and purple-red big blue stem grasses complement yellow blooms, creating an arrangement that competes with any early summer floral display.
While I relish summer’s warmth and seeming wealth of time, autumn has become my golden hoard. I look forward to going through my closet and drawers to exchange thin cotton clothing for bulkier sweaters and flannel pajamas. This ritual along with my farewells to the garden and migrating feathered friends makes me feel like a snake shedding its summer skin.
This folded edge between seasons is a gift. As these days of sunlight and warmth overlap coming darkness and quiet, I give thanks for the blessings of each.