Sunday, July 12, 2015

A mellow yellow time of year

Midday, blue skies, warm with a moderate breeze that keeps down the deer flies but makes photography of long-stemmed wildflowers a challenge, regardless of the f-stop setting. Out of focus is out-of-focus even with an increased depth of field. I don't have any studies to document this, but it seems to me that we're moving from a time of year dominated by purple flowers to one saturated with yellows. Today we saw the first goldenrod in bloom, at least that's what I think it was. Goat's beard, Hawksbeard, Birdsfoot trefoil, Black-eyed Susans and Evening primrose are all blooming along local roads. Not all is a shade of saffron, though. May's goslings are becoming August's geese.

Yellow Goat's Beard (Tragopogon dubius) seed head
Yellow Goat's Beard (Tragopogon dubius) seed head
Photo by J. Harrington

Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Photo by J. Harrington

Narrow-leaf Hawksbeard (Crepis tectorum)
Narrow-leaf Hawksbeard (Crepis tectorum)
Photo by J. Harrington

Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Photo by J. Harrington

For those of us who think of Summer as the sunny season, a preponderance of yellow flowers at this time of year is entirely appropriate and doesn't diminish in the least the attractiveness of fields full of Boneset and and Hoary Alyssum, looking like arrangements of Baby's breath.

common milkweed starting to flower
common milkweed starting to flower
Photo by J. Harrington

One of this Summer's puzzlements is that the milkweed on our property is just beginning to come into flower, while much of that down the road a mile and a half or so started blooming more than a week ago. Generally speaking all the plants should be getting about the same amount of daily sunlight and rain. I'm doubtful that being located a mile or so South of our property would make that much of a difference, unlike the 15 to 20 mile separation we noted last Spring with skunk cabbage. I suppose it's time to remember that "life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved" [various sources, maybe Kierkegaard?]. Time to kick back, put feet up and enjoy the warmth of yellow over our heads and under our feet.

Yellow Glove

By Naomi Shihab Nye 
What can a yellow glove mean in a world of motorcars and governments?

I was small, like everyone. Life was a string of precautions: Don’t kiss the squirrel before you bury him, don’t suck candy, pop balloons, drop watermelons, watch TV. When the new gloves appeared one Christmas, tucked in soft tissue, I heard it trailing me: Don’t lose the yellow gloves.

I was small, there was too much to remember. One day, waving at a stream—the ice had cracked, winter chipping down, soon we would sail boats and roll into ditches—I let a glove go. Into the stream, sucked under the street. Since when did streets have mouths? I walked home on a desperate road. Gloves cost money. We didn’t have much. I would tell no one. I would wear the yellow glove that was left and keep the other hand in a pocket. I knew my mother’s eyes had tears they had not cried yet, I didn’t want to be the one to make them flow. It was the prayer I spoke secretly, folding socks, lining up donkeys in windowsills. To be good, a promise made to the roaches who scouted my closet at night. If you don’t get in my bed, I will be good. And they listened. I had a lot to fulfill.

The months rolled down like towels out of a machine. I sang and drew and fattened the cat. Don’t scream, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t fight—you could hear it anywhere. A pebble could show you how to be smooth, tell the truth. A field could show how to sleep without walls. A stream could remember how to drift and change—next June I was stirring the stream like a soup, telling my brother dinner would be ready if he’d only hurry up with the bread, when I saw it. The yellow glove draped on a twig. A muddy survivor. A quiet flag.

Where had it been in the three gone months? I could wash it, fold it in my winter drawer with its sister, no one in that world would ever know. There were miracles on Harvey Street. Children walked home in yellow light. Trees were reborn and gloves traveled far, but returned. A thousand miles later, what can a yellow glove mean in a world of bankbooks and stereos?

Part of the difference between floating and going down.     


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