Vanhoutte Spirea

At some point this week, I blinked and spring slipped into summer. Trees that were leafing are now in full leaf, and fragile spring flowers have faded and given way to hardier replacements.

Just bloomed

Where there was honeysuckle, now there is beauty bush, and lily-of-the-valley is blooming where there had been glory-of-the-snow. In our front yard, the pieris is starting to fade, the mountain laurel is about to bloom, and the turkeys that were loud and emphatic only a week or so ago have started to quell and quiet.

When, exactly, does spring start and summer begin? At exactly the moment when green passes into green, the pale neon glow of fresh foliage deepening into a more somber and shadowy hue.


This morning when I took the dogs out, I immediately noticed something different about the light, which has become almost autumnal in its bronzed and burnished hue. Winter light is white or blue; spring light gradually warms to the yellow glint of summer. But the light in autumn is like no other: a glint beyond golden, like the sheen off hammered copper.


Today the crickets are keening with an ever-increasing insistence, fiddling away, emphatically, the waning length of their days. You can feel the life force of summer building to a crescendo that must crash: summer has become overgrown and overripe, trending toward decay.

The apples that were green last month have ripened and become ruddy, and now they lie in smashed and rotting piles along the curb and sidewalk, firm green tartness reduced to sickly-sweet mush. It is the corporeality of rotten apples that offends, their pink and gold and burnished salmon calling to mind human flesh and its propensity toward decay. By tasting the forbidden apple, Eve doomed herself and her kind to the way of all flesh. We flower then ripen then fall, death and decay always having the last word.


In late August, nature dances a tarantella, time spinning with centrifugal intensity, a feverishly manic fecundity that can’t be sustained. There is a note of urgent insistence—a hint of resignation—in the desire to pack as much as possible into waning August days: a kind of Carnival carnality that crams infinite exuberance into the period that precedes want and decline.

Before things slow down, they speed up: this is a law of both biology and physics, summer’s last gasps being her most impassioned. Nothing lives as fiercely or as forcefully as a creature that knows it’s going to die.