“If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper...” ― Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
Just like Lord Sebastian carried around his teddy bear Aloysius (named after saint Aloysius, the patron of youth), I think we all still harbor traces of what Evelyn described as the languor of youth:
- the relaxation of yet unwearied sinews, the mind sequestered and self-regarding, the sun standing still in the heavens and the earth throbbing to our own pulse -
I remember as a young person how summer vacation flew by and how I so wished I could just do it all over again. But then I would see the ironweed in bloom.
My mom always told me that when the ironweed is in bloom you know summer is almost over. Well, the ironweed around our place is long gone now.
Most people don't even notice ironweed and only associate it with pastures, the lone survivor of livestock grazing. Farmers consider it a weed and mow it, along with the monarda, goldenrod and queen anns lace. The name ironweed was derived from how tough the stems are and how difficult it is to dig up the deep root. I admire it's tenacity, as I'm sure the swallowtails do too:
Around our place the Maximilian sunflower has taken the baton from the ironweed and proudly announces summers end. It is a wondering sort of plant that likes to move across the fields from year to year in waves, that or it's just a gregarious sort of Asteraceae. They grow tall, very tall in our fields, partly because they're supported by the grasses (which themselves can reach nearly eight feet.)
There are other, less grandiose, plants that to me signify summers end and the beginning of fall. One of my favorites is the wild blue sage (Salvia azurea grandiflora). I doubt that you'll see it in very many places at all in Indiana. It's rare and threatened in Illinois. Ah, but not on our property. We have lot's of it:
Unfoturnualty the fruit will not be always ripe, contrary to what Sebastian was pining for. No the fruit will rot and set seeds for next year unless it's cleaned up in our garden. That means finding the occasional Tyrannosaurus Rex of cucumbers. You know, that one monster that somehow avoided picking:
Lastly, being on the cusp of Autumn signals to Lorrie and I that we are nearing one of our most favorite times of year, Vieques. It's almost a 5th season for us. The end of summer means we have just 6 weeks to get things finished around the place because we'll be in Vieques after that. The 8 month span between our Feb trips and the November ones is tough. The 10 weeks between the winter trips is much more bearable and softens the harshness of Indiana winters. I guess in a some ways we're not much different than Lord Sebastain, trying to hold onto summer and the warmth, greenness and ripeness of it all. For us, in Vieques it's always summer, we can always find a beach to be alone and there's a ripeness in everything. I know, I'm over romanticizing about a tiny little island in the Caribbean that's plagued with all sorts of issues, but there still exists a sort of innocence with it. Like it hasn't quite been spoiled by the carpet baggers, yet.
On a more technical note, Feb is now squared away. We'll be staying at Beso del Caribe. Renting from Maritzas, again. I checked out Avis and Island Rental. The difference in price was hardly discernible. I was able to buy business class airfare with miles from United. 60k miles for two tickets. We are hoping that all the refuge is open by our Feb trip.
In closing, the teddy bear at the top of this post was made from a fur coat that Lorrie's grandmother had. She was from South Dakota and is who Jessica is named after. She passed a number of years ago. Both her and her husband were amazing people, we miss them.