Except in magnificent floral displays, August is not a favorite month with the naturalist. The characteristic features of summer are well-nigh over, and when we linger in the shade of the old oaks, our thoughts are more apt to revert to what has been, than to become centered upon what is. And yet how prone we are to forget the character of the seasons, once they are passed! ~ Charles Conrad Abbott (Days Out of Doors)
On this, the shortest day of all the 365, I wander over the covered paths of the garden hillside. I wade through the drifts along the swamp edge. I walk over the snow-covered ice among the catttails. The wind is gone. The day is still. The world is decorated with unmarred snow. This is winter with winter beauty everywhere. Autumn is finally, officially, gone. Like the evening of the day, the fall has been a time of ceaseless alteration. Cold, in the autumn, is overcoming the heat just as darkness, in the evening, is overcoming the light. All around, in recent months, there have been changes in a thousand forms. The days of easy warmth were passing, then past. Birds departed. Threadbare trees lost their final leaves. Nuts fell from the branches. Pumpkins and corn turned yellow in the fields. For animals and men alike, this was the time of harvest. The phantom summer, Indian summer, came and went. The chorus of the insects died away in nightly frosts. Goldenrod tarnished; grass clumps faded from green to yellow. Milkweed pods gaped open and their winged seeds took flight. The windrows of fallen leaves withered, lost their color, merged into one universal brown. Now they are buried beneath the new and seasonal beauty of the snow. Autumn, the evening of the year, is over; winter, the night of the year, has come. ~ Edwin Way Teale (Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year)
As we begin this meal with grace, Let us become aware of the memory Carried inside the food before us: The quiver of the seed Awakening in the earth, Unfolding in a trust of roots And slender stems of growth, On its voyage toward harvest, The kiss of rain and surge of sun; The innocence of animal soul That never spoke a word, Nourished by the earth To become today our food; The work of all the strangers Whose hands prepared it, The privilege of wealth and health That enables us to feast and celebrate. ~ John O’Donohue (To Bless the Space Between Us)
May your Thanksgiving be blessed with good chat and cheer and the love of family and friends!
In the circle of the seasons, there is no pause. Already summer slides toward autumn. On this hot afternoon, at the very summit of the season, signs of change are in the air. ~ Edwin Way Teale (Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year)
Every year I look forward to visiting one of the huge sunflower fields at Buttonwood Farm. Summer is my least favorite season and this harvest, for me, marks the midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. After two years of viewing the field from the perimeter, due to the pandemic, this year we walked through. 🌻
What a thrill, walking through, looking up at the sunflowers which seemed to be looking down at us, curious about the stream of humans admiring them. There were hundreds of bees buzzing and the sky was so blue. You’d think after seeing a couple of sunflowers it might get boring but on we went, dazzled over and over again. 🌻
After going through the field we returned outside by way of the perimeter, to get a little shade from the adjoining woods. Then we climbed the viewing hill and took some more pictures. 🌻
On our way down the hill I spotted a shagbark hickory tree, and I think the nut pictured below is from that tree. A shagbark hickory nut, I do believe. 🌻
As we returned to the grassy parking field we noticed the corn field with a viewing platform. It should be ready for the corn maze in September. 🌽
Since sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine the fate of the land of half my ancestors was very much on my mind on this day. 🌻 Sunflower in Ukrainian: соняшник (sonyashnyk) 🌻
And now, as I patiently anticipate autumn with all its bountiful harvests, I will try to focus on summer’s remaining blessings. Flowers blooming, butterflies and dragonflies, songbirds still singing, excursions to the farmers markets and pleasant warm evenings by the sea…
Month of August — covered with foam is the beach; Blithesome the bee, full the hive; Better the work of the sickle than the bow. ~ anonymous Welsh poem (Lammas: Celebrating the Fruits of the First Harvest)
When we were young and feeling the need to prove ourselves, we generated heat and energy like the noonday sun. But now we take time to reflect the Tao and bathe our world in soft silent beauty like the full moon on an Autumn evening.
An abundance of opinions will generate heat but accomplish nothing. You no longer have to comment on each and every little thing. You can observe events with a detached serenity. When you speak, your words are gentle, helpful, few. Your silence is as beautiful as the Harvest moon.
~ William Martin (The Sage’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life)
She’ll come at dusky first of day, White over yellow harvest’s song. Upon her dewy rainbow way She shall be beautiful and strong. The lidless eye of noon shall spray Tan on her ankles in the hay, Shall kiss her brown the whole day long.
I’ll know her in the windrows, tall Above the crickets of the hay. I’ll know her when her odd eyes fall, One May-blue, one November-grey. I’ll watch her from the red barn wall Take down her rusty scythe, and call, And I will follow her away.
So, last year we visited the sunflower field at the end of the harvest and I got a lot of pictures of blossoms past their peak, all still beautiful in their own way. This year we changed things up and went on the first day day of the gathering in and at a different time of day, evening instead of morning. Also unlike last year we’ve had plenty of rain while last summer we were dealing with a drought.
Each year we plant over 14 acres of sunflowers and harvest approximately 300,000 blooms for your viewing pleasure and to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut, a non-profit organization dedicated to granting wishes to children with critical illnesses. Sunflowers are available while supplies last. We offer cut your sunflowers with a $2 per flower donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut. ~ Buttonwood Farm website
There’s a small hill to climb to get a pretty view over a large field and then several paths to follow through the sea of sunflowers. This year I became fascinated with all the blossoms getting ready to bloom and wound up taking more pictures of them than the ones at their peaks!
The crop must drink; we move the pipe To draw the water back in time To fall again upon the field, So that the harvest may grow ripe, The year complete its ancient rhyme With other years, and a good yield Complete our human hope. ~ Wendell Berry (This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems)
When celebrating, always take your cue from nature and adapt your rituals to circumstances. … Adapting to circumstances, like actively observing on your walks, brings you into rhythm with the natural world. And soon, checking in to a festival becomes second nature, as you remember past experience. … May the spiral of our seasonal journey be blessed. ~ Penny Billington (The Path of Druidry: Walking the Ancient Green Way)
Can you tell we’re under the flight path from New York to Europe?
It’s hard to believe that a year has passed and we’re still struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, in spite of being fully vaccinated. The delta variant is running rampant through the stubbornly unvaccinated population, but the concerning part is that even the vaccinated are at risk now. Here in Connecticut we’ve had 854 vaccinated people with breakthrough COVID cases, and 150 of them are hospitalized. We’re back to wearing masks in the grocery store and many indoor places, like our doctors, are still requiring them. So much for eating inside our favorite restaurant for a while… It’s a good thing we’ve gotten used to finding things to do outside!
I tremble with gratitude for my children and their children who take pleasure in one another.
At our dinners together, the dead enter and pass among us in living love and in memory.
And so the young are taught.
~ Wendell Berry (This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems)
It’s been almost a year since we’ve gathered to eat with our children and grandchildren and ancestors. I miss those times. Some day we will all be together again in person but for now we will be grateful for our video calls.
When we know about our ancestors, when we sense them as living and as supporting us, then we feel connected to the genetic life-stream, and we draw strength and nourishment from this. ~ Philip Carr-Gomm (Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century)
We have reached the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year. Earth’s energy has shifted and the veil between the spirit world and our world has lifted for a few days. It’s a time to reflect on and honor the lives of our ancestors.
We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly. ~ Dr. Anthony Fauci (CNN, October 30, 2020)