Losing Daylight

It warmed a little today, after a half-week of rain flirting with sleet. Even now, approaching midnight, the air is mild.

Into the quiet, a cricket drops its late autumn chirps, one-by-one, measuring the night at the meditative pace of breath.  Like a melancholy memory of summer, gone.

I spent the day planting daffodils.  Not my favorite flower, but one the deer won’t eat, and I want some color in my semi-forested, unrelievedly green back yard come spring.  The rain had softened the earth and it was a good time to get the bulbs into the soil.  It still felt like a season of production, rather than decline.

I cleaned out the garage and stored the deck and porch furniture, vacuumed out the car and installed the rubber floor mats for the coming mud and snow. I’ll wait a bit before putting the little red shovel in the trunk.

Tomorrow, (today, now, as I am editing this post) we set the clocks back. Somehow this day, more than the September Equinox, is the true divider between summer and winter. Throughout the fall we can ignore thinking too much of the cold and dark to come.  The light is still with is in the early evening and the color, rioting overhead and beneath our feet is a joyous distraction. It is a cozening time; a short season of artful deception. Even the musk of spent vegetation can seem more spice than rot – or so we can fool ourselves into thinking, for a while.

The weather app on my phone predicts the freezing point later in the week, but today will still be a mild one, with rain.  As I write, some cotton-softened thunder is laying down a low bass ground to the insistent chirp of my cricket’s song, its steady metronome, slowly marking time as the sky lightens into day. 

Looking ahead, here’s a poem I wrote some years ago.

Saving Daylight

Willows open veins in dead arms;
fountain down their beaded
necklaces of jade.

Red buds rouge the silver maple’s
wintered limbs outside the window.

Last year’s reeds, standing bleached
and hollow, bloom
red and raucous birdsong.

Tonight, a lost hour gains the time

for the winking secrets of fireflies
in a perfumed lawn,

for hiding from muffled calls home
in the safe dark of the yard,

for the thrill of batwings skimming
silent below the stars,

for the sueded purple taste of grapes.

© Kathleen Cerveny 2009



5:00 AM, the last day of August. Already there have been nights too cool to leave the windows open, mornings where sweaters are needed. The post-eclipse sun remains hot, midday, but the trees look tired of it all. The bright green of June and July is dulled with a film of ennui and already, red and orange Pollock the sidewalks of the neighborhood.

Already the crickets have slowed the urgency of their tempo.

So, too, my urgency of care for the garden.  Already the weeds have taken advantage of this final chance to dominate.

Already there have been hints at November skies – lead-purple clouds. Winter-weight clouds. These have passed and the buoyant cumulus and high cirrus have returned, but their rocky heaviness still presses on the heart of summer.

It’s 6 AM now. Between the measured beat of crickets and the relentless tocks of the Seth Thomas, already the night has pulled itself away from yesterday; stepped across the threshold into this last day of summer.  

And just now – a ‘V’ of geese trumpeting south.

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