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Nancy Wiersma: The first telltale harbingers of autumn

Published 10:15am Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I can see the telltale signs. They are all about me.

Like sands in an hour glass, its grains are flowing down.

Summer’s time is slipping by us. It’s coming to an end.

And with their appearances are the first harbingers of autumn.

The monarch butterflies, some are tattered, some are worn, others are fresh and colorful. All seek out the milkweed I left growing for them in the garden.

The blackbirds are gathering and flying off to who knows where. Thank God. They sure can empty and chase off the wanted birds from not only my feeders, but my garden as well.

Bees, plenty of bees, right now in my garden. Numbered, dwelling there are the fuzzy, chubby, bumblebees, honeybees and there are also a number of unidentified hornets and crowds of testy yellowjackets and wasps that fill the garden, too.

The cicadas and crickets singing as night falls, like the welcomed scented breezes that filter through my screened bedroom windows – their songs, like lullabies, as I listen I’m settled off to sleep.

The oaks and the matter about their acorns. They have not decided on when to sling and pelt us with them as of yet.

In their due time, I’m sure, and then look out.

The flowers of late summer are budding and flowering.

Plants like hosta plantaginea, the August lily, huge trumpets of white scenting the garden air, I sit and watch the cumbersome, chubby bumblebees as they crawl into the trumpets.
The stonecrops or seduma, physotegia or obedient plant, helenium or sneezeweed, chrysanthemums, asters, anemone, chelone, also called turtlehead, hibiscus, Russian sage, eupatorium or Joe-Pye weed, marigolds, morning glories, cimicifuga to name but a few. So there is still plenty of blooming time yet to come, but the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are all still frantic.

Speaking of the hummingbirds, how they squeal, chase and zip about the garden.
I cleaned their feeders, as it was time, and refilled them with fresh simple syrup, white sugar water. How they appreciate this.

How do I know this, by the way? They “guard” their feeder.

Oh, the chasing, “screaming” and chirping, what a ruckus they make.

But I adore it. I truly will miss them when the are gone. What a void they leave.

Even the insects, both pesky and beneficial, have decided it’s time for their sabbatical.
Have you seen any lately, any eggs, larvae or caterpillar? Few, if any.

In late summer/early autumn the breezes have a scent all their own. Have you noticed it?
Breezes are spiced with an earthy, drying foliage, a harvest-type fragrance, yet somewhere intermixed there is also a sweetness about it, too.

Early autumn, harvest time, a time of plenty.
My favorite time of the year.

Rain and plenty of it, a coolness, yet at times there still can be plenty of heat and dryness.
The quiet rumbles of a rainy thunderstorm replace the more violent storms of spring.
Ahh, the days of early autumn. Not that I’m rushing the season or time. It’s not my call.

A spell lies on the garden.
Summer sits
With finger on her lips as if she heard
The steps of autumn echo on the hill.
— Gertrude Huntingtun McGiffert

Nancy Wiersma of Dowagiac writes a weekly column.

  • Penny Wilcox

    Ms. Wiersma, A I looked out on my patio, just the other day,and I had the same thoughts as your article on the Tell Tale Signs of Autumn . You described everything so wonderfully. I hope to send this article on to some relatives, who no longer live in the Wonderful State of Michigan. My brother, who misses the changing of the seasons, will really get homesick. Thanks for the wonderful article.

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