Friday, September 3, 2010

Season in the Sun

Remember when you were a kid and time seemed to always move so slowly? Sitting in class, willing the big arm on the wall clock over the teacher's head to move, already, so that you could tear around on the playground or go eat lunch or make it to practice or latch key it home to pop a TAB and settle in front of the television for the latest After School Special while gabbing with your friends on the phone?

Remember how a family day trip could drag on for days, how the span between birthdays and Christmases seemed like years, and how summer most especially stretched into eternity?

Until, one day, it didn't and there you were, time warped back into the classroom, watching that big hand etch out its torturous circular path as you dreamed of everything but what was on the chalkboard.

I haven't watched a clock in years, but I still feel summer's end with the same acuity as I did when I was a kid. One day, I'm sweating it out in the heat of late August and the next, I'm wearing long pants and a jacket to walk the dogs come September.

The light, too, is different. More mellow, with a golden cast that renders everything in higher and brighter relief. Then, there's the air. Not the way it hangs, but the way it smells. Some urban areas in late summer smell like trapped auto exhaust and sweaty bodies. Albuquerque in September smells of roasting chile, its smoky sweet scent so pervasive, it becomes the olfactory equivalent of a theme song. Live here long enough and eventually you don't notice it so much, but I can't count the number of times I've landed back home in Albuquerque after a fall trip when someone on the plane hasn't stuck their noses in the air and asked, "What's that smell?"

Late summer is also marked by the last flush of flower bloom—not only in my garden but most importantly in the wild. This year's wet monsoonal flow has produced a riot of wildflowers so varied and vibrant, I can't keep up with them all: fleabane and wild verbena, red rocket and sulphur buckwheat, evening primrose and globe mallow, and the granddaddy of them all, helianthus annus, or the common sunflower.

Regardless of their ubiquity along the roadsides and ditches of the American West, sunflowers never cease to amaze me with their resilience and beauty. Yesterday morning, I was up in hills running with my little Border Collie, Maddie, on a trail I haven't been on in over a month. The end of this particular trails drops steeply into an isolated valley of about a hundred acres that serves as a transition from the surrounding neighborhoods to the forest beyond.

As I rounded the bend, I was greeted by the sight of what must have been hundreds of thousands of sunflowers, their stalks as tall as I was, each and every one of their faces aimed at the rising sun and so thickly packed together that the normally wide, clearly demarcated trail was completely obliterated.

I had to shut off my GPS and just stand there for a few moments, wondering at the evolutionary necessity of such drop dead gorgeousness. Maddie, of course, could have cared less. She was too busy chasing rabbits.

Since the sunflowers are still thriving, and the purple asters are right behind them, I'm not going to mourn just yet the passing of summer.

Even though I do know this eight-week Indian Summer slide into November will pass just as blink-of-an-eye quick, and soon I'll look outside and see nothing on the ground but snow and the withered detritus of a once thriving landscape. In which case, all I can say about winter is this: thank God for cashmere and the fall television season.

Happy Labor Day to everyone and I hope you plan to spend it wringing every last bit of fun and frolic out of your summer.


Sharon Rudd said...

Another beautifully written post, my friend. Love these visits to your corner of the world. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Heff said...

Yes, getting old SUCKS !!!!

Summers used to last what seemed like TWO YEARS, there were NO BILLS, or RULES, the alcohol was bought by someone "of age" and sneaked (after hours) to you, and the heavy metal was HEAVIER, AND BOILED IN YOUR VEINS when you heard it for the first time !

Sorry, I went off on a rant.

I digress.

moi said...

Eggy: Thanks and same to you!

Heff: Rant away. Few experiences are as vivid as those filtered through the senses of youth, that's for sure.

Jenny said...

This is one of my favorite posts of yours..... beautiful writing....

"it becomes the olfactory equivalent of a theme song."

I feel this way when I return to the Island and smell the air. Fall air? Oh yeah, it's different too.

I also love that you turned off technology to revel in the beauty of the wild flowers. Something we should all try to do more often as our lives seem to become more entangled with wires than weeds.

Have a lovely weekend, Moi.


Pam said...

Never has the warm, crisp fall air been more welcome, either! Yikes and yowza, how hot was this summer? Maybe it is because I'm older that it just bothers me more? But today is glorious. The kind of day that makes you believe in God. Cool breeze. Warm sun. Doors and windows open to let the breeze in the house. Cats wondering in and out at will. Football weather. Beautiful post. I am glad also that you stopped to revel in the sunflowers. You may have to start jogging with a camera so you can record and post some of the sights you see.

Aunty Belle said...

Lovely, Moi, Cherie.

"evolutionary necessity"? Uh...the Creator loves to create fer the sheer joy of it. Why stop at yaller sunflowers when blue asters can be made too? Oh how the angels smiled.

j'adore the image of Moi runnin' amidst the sunflowers!

Karl said...

Good afternoon Moi,

Oh yes, do I remember the second hand moving so slowly that each tick seemed like the bang of a gong. I always celebrated getting out of school, never the return.

The summers and their endless promise. I didn't appreciate the flowers then, nearly as much as I do now. Then I could handle the heat, running full throttle all the time, now not so much. I look forward to the fall, yet I will miss the flowers.

Nice post Moi.

moi said...

Boxer: I'm always happy when I get surprised by nature. It's too easy to take one's home turf for granted.

Pam: Are you loving the rain and cooler temps?

Aunty: Yes, there is a certain romance to frolicking among the flowers. Until one smacks you in the face or wraps itself around your ankle. Then one realizes: the creator has a sense of humor, too.

Karl: I remember my childhood summers as one long run or bicycle ride. Kicked out of the house by a benignly neglectful mother immediately after breakfast, handed a sandwich through the screen door at lunchtime, 30 minutes for sit down dinner at six, then booted out again until dark. Kids today should know such glorious freedom. LOVE your new avatar, BTW. Very cool.

Kymical Reactions said...

Miss Moi, I hope your Labor day was as fantastic as your wonderful post was to read. Getting older? Yep. That's me. Today, actually. I've decided that I'm going to make this year the very best year of my life, and I'm going to share my journey. SO, I'm back. I mean it this time. ;)

I just wanted to stop by and check in, and let you know that I've missed you.

fishy said...

Clever Moi as sunflowers were the messengers of time before there were clocks.

A lovely present in my day Moi to read this post.

moi said...

Kym: Happy, happy birthday and welcome back!

Fishy: It's quite something, to see all those heads pointed in the same direction. Little floral soldiers.

LaDivaCucina said...

I loved this post, Moi. I love wild flowers and was lucky enough to see the dessert of the Australian outback in bloom at Uluru. Huge colorful patches of purple, white and yellow, amazing! Do any of the local flowers need fire to bring out their seed?