The last days of Summer are obvious. The light has changed coloring the sky a deep blue. The clouds are big, fluffy and milky white. Horticulturally, we’ve planted several seed beds for Fall harvesting.
The wildly stimulating grand symphony of color and life that the excited Swallowtails, Fritillaries and Skippers performed has slowed to a soothing and reflective melody, with the pretty ‘Little Yellow’ and the cautious, interested beautiful Buckeye.
The Sunflowers are gone, along with the melon patch. I was absent the day our volunteer group cleared that garden, but my son went.
I spent the time in the parking lot lying down in my car due to exhaustion. (I may add a personal note about that at the end of this post).
“You should have come today,” my son said after volunteering with the Horticulture Therapy group. “We had a great time. You missed out.”
I was happy that he had fun and especially to see his smile.
“Smell my breath!” he exclaimed. “Smells like Basil doesn’t it?”
The fragrance was strong, I thought. Whatever they ate must have been good. “How are the Sunflowers?” I asked him.
“We ripped them up and cleared all that out,” he answered, referring to the space where the plants had lived.
“What did you do with them?” I asked. It was a futile question, I realized. I knew they were in the compost, along with the dozens of caterpillars on the Fennel plant that I had hoped to see become Butterflies.
“Yep,” he reiterated, “They’re gone Mom.” His tone sounded of a time and place when men must tell women of particular actions that simply had to be done and only by men.
He’d been perspiring and had dirt on his clothes. He looked satisfied. I gathered that his physical strength and abilities had served the group’s work efforts well, which I believe is good for a young man.
I did feel like a part of me had gone to wherever the Sunflowers went. I wished, in one way, that I’d been there for a proper parting. I loved the Sunflowers. Upon reflection, I figure the compost is as good a place as any to be with Mother Earth.
The next day I stopped by the gardens alone. I wanted to sit for a while, remembering my Sunflower Summer.
Each had unique differences. There were the giant yellow ones, which did demand first greetings from onlookers. Some were stunningly bright with pointed petals, while others were softer, with petals that looked like long blond locks of hair. The pale yellows were almost transparent in a particular light of day. I smile every time I remember the one with a head so big ‘she’ had to be tied to Bamboo.
Most surprising to me were the red Sunflowers. The wonderfully rich colors are worthy of any camera! They were beautiful.
There was one Sunflower still standing. My son had planted it down below the main gardens against a tall cement wall. His Sunflower was always different from the others in the most interesting ways. A corner of the bloom’s circle of petals curled around the large spiraled center. I often thought it looked like the small hand of a shy child, perhaps covering her face after a compliment, but mostly, the beautiful flower reminded me of my son.
In the brightest Summer days the plant stood tall. As the days went on, it started bending forward, as though to watch over the smaller plants blooming closer to the ground.
One day I visited the gardens when my son wasn’t feeling well. His flower was leaning so far over that the petals almost touched the tops of the relatively short Zinnias. I couldn’t believe it was still standing. I inspected the stem thinking the plant might need to be staked. Surprisingly, it was thick, obviously strong enough to handle the form it had taken.
A garden and the life it brings is a continuous source of metaphors and personal reflection.
The critters who visited, along with the more permanent residents in the gardens, are treasures in my heart. I remember my first ‘Green Healing’ garden friend, the little Lizard who lived in the Cabbage patch. I fell in love.
My next Green Healing friend was a Ladybug. The Horticulture Therapist pointed her out to me as we were walking to the Greenhouse on a chilly Spring morning. She was sitting pretty on a leaf in the unforgettable garden of Crimson Clover.
The therapist knew I had enjoyed my camera and encouraged me to take a picture. I snapped a few shots of the little ladybug. Returning home, I uploaded the photos. I saw what I loved.
That little ladybug was absolutely incredible, at least to my eyes. I couldn’t believe the details in the photograph. I couldn’t believe I took the photograph! The morning dew spiraled down beside my new little friend like a tiny string of graduated pearls. She’s my Lucky Little Lady who got me hooked on nature photography.
I’ve enjoyed all the wildlife in the gardens, most recently a new baby Turtle rooming with the Frog in the Pond Garden. I love their photos, but Baby Turtle doesn’t like posing for the camera. I try not to disturb him. I guess, in my heart, I feel most connected with the Butterfly. Everything about them is amazing and beautiful.
I’m not surprised that the Buckeye was the most prominent of the winged friends during my most recent visit to the gardens in the last days of Summer.
These beautifully winged wonders have an average life span of only about ten days, but their flight period is year-round in the southern United States. The Northern ones do not overwinter and many return southward in great migrations.
A small patch of the orange Mexican Sunflowers are still thriving. I imagine they had a lot to do with the delightfully high number of butterflies in the gardens this year.
There are several other flowers blooming that obviously produce nectar, but I’m not familiar enough to know their botanical names. I love the big white ones.
The hummingbirds and butterflies like them too. I’m sure there is plenty of nectar for the late Summer and soon to arrive Autumn winged visitors.
Personally, the Summer was for the most part, difficult. I’m grateful for my time with the volunteers and in the gardens. It was time away from the harsh parts of my life. People in that group care about people and those are always good kind of folks!
I’m also glad to have spent time watching and being with the Butterflies. On that note, I’ll recall the pretty Painted Lady who put on the most colorful show of the year with the orange Sunflowers and pink Zinnias. ‘She’ showed up during my recent visit, but I didn’t recognize her.
After taking several photos, I asked a staff member to look and tell me if she knew the Butterfly. “I’m pretty sure that’s a Painted Lady,” she said.
Ha! I thought to myself. “I don’t think so. Look at the wings,” I replied. They were jagged like those of a Question Mark or Comma. I was confused and thought she didn’t know her butterflies all that well, which surprised me.
Again, it wasn’t until I saw the images on the digital screen that I realized the woman had correctly identified ‘my lady’ painted pretty. She may have had a difficult summer too. Her wings told of predators, but mostly of survival, because she’s still flying free.
On a more personal note, I have pneumonia. I knew I felt terribly bad, but I attributed the worsening of my health over the past six weeks or more to stress and possibly, utter exhaustion. Also, living with chronic illness means it’s hard to know the difference between your normal way of feeling and a nasty infection. According to the doctor, the large pills she prescribed should get me well.
Along with the medication, I’ll look to my jagged beautiful Painted Lady!
Thank you for visiting DogKisses! Pardon the lengthy post. It took me a while to write and there are probably grammatical errors. I hope to be back to myself again soon, which would include having energy to read my favorite blogs. Until then, I hope you are having your own Green Healing moments this Summer.
Peace and Pass it on.