The Bittersweet Melancholy of Summer’s End…


What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.~John Steinbeck

September and the remains of summer have all but slipped away.

The warm spell we’re experiencing in our part of the Ohio River Valley these last couple of weeks in September are nice, but the warmth is not fooling anyone. Especially the squirrels in our backyard, who have started storing food with a vengeance. They know winter is coming.

The shortening days tell something in that little squirrel brain to start stealing as many sunflower seeds from the bird feeder as they can. Their hiding place of choice? The carefully tended potted plants on our deck. I’m sure the squirrels don’t understand how close they are to transitioning from cute, funny wildlife we enjoy watching from our window to pestilent rodents which should be wiped from the face of the earth. They haven’t quite reached the tipping point yet, but there are some days when it’s pretty darn close. Especially when we find a poor plant lying and dying on the deck next to its recently excavated home.

The September fields are still shining with Goldenrod. (Kentucky’s state flower and the bane of Professor M’s seasonal-allergy-afflicted existence.) But they’ll last until we get a good frost. We’ve experienced such  strange weather this year so far, I’m curious when the first hard frost will actually happen.

photo 1

The shortening days are causing the herb garden to bolt as well. Despite the constant pinching back, the basil and cilantro are doing their best to set seed. This is the time of year when I usually give up and just make huge batches of pesto and guacamole. Time for us to start storing a few foodstuffs away for winter ourselves.

Make hay while the sun shines, as they say.

About Benjamin

Gardening, Raising a Family, Hobby Photography, Reading & Philoso-phizing...not necessarily in that order.
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41 Responses to The Bittersweet Melancholy of Summer’s End…

  1. solarbeez says:

    You just know a beautiful blue sky, gorgeous sunflower shot like that will pull people in. It sure pulled me in. 🙂
    We don’t see much goldenrod around here, but the bees are pulling in golden pollen colors. Is goldenrod pollen gold?

    • Benjamin says:

      Thanks! Goldenrod pollen is indeed golden. Sometimes when the afternoon sun’s rays slant across a field of it, the whole field seems to glow…Quite magical! A lot of people blame their seasonal allergies on goldenrod because the pollen is so evident, but usually the culprit is ragweed which blooms at the same time. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 Cheers, Ben

  2. rusty duck says:

    Great sunflower shot!
    Squirrels are a problem here too but it is mice that do the uprooting. I planted some bugle on a steep bank and each morning for two weeks I’ve had to put some of them back in the ground.

  3. dandyknife says:

    Picture it: realistic but plastic geraniums set in a diggable substrate that doesn’t turn muddy when wet, and a tube leading from the point of sunflower-seed storage back to the birdfeeder. The squirrels are exercised, the birds occasionally get a bite to eat, you patent this and make your millions, everybody’s happy.
    (Do you think maybe I should stop visiting blogfriends so early in the morning?)

  4. Grower says:

    The squirrels can be ruthless here so I put rocks around the bases of the plants in pots and it seems to work. Please don’t blame that beautiful goldenrod for allergies. It is insct pollinated so the pollen is sticky and doesn’t blow around. It just has the misfortune of being very visible and blooming at the same time as ragweed. Enjoy the warm spell. It’s already receding here.

    • Benjamin says:

      Good idea with the rocks, I’ll definitely try that! And unfortunately for us, Professor M has tested positive for a goldenrod allergy (after years of me trying to convince her it was ragweed-usually the culprit people blame their goldenrod allergies on.) So I’m prohibited from bringing in big bunches of the lovely stuff in vases. We’re soaking up the sun while it lasts! Cheers, Ben

  5. KerryCan says:

    Our critters are certainly telling us that winter is coming–squirrels, Canada geese, snowgeese–all doing their thing! Your huge batches of pesto will taste great all winter.

    • Benjamin says:

      Thanks! I wonder if as we become more and more immersed in our technology, we’ll miss all the subtle and lovely clues nature gives us about the world. I’m determined to remain vigilant to the goings-on of critters! 😉 Cheers, Ben

  6. Crooked Tracks says:

    It is so fun to watch the animals at this time of year. Our squirrels will take a seed or acorn and hide it under a fallen leaf 🙂

  7. Wonder if squirrels will ever make it into my garden…. Saw a couple playing round a tree trunk yesterday and they looked so cute but I’m sure I would feel less well-disposed towards them if they tore up the garden

  8. Chloris says:

    Wait till you plant some nice plump tulip bulbs, the squirrels won’ t be so cute and funny then. Not only do they steal all the food from the bird feeder here but they come and curse me through the window when it’ s empty.

  9. Robbie says:

    I got all my fall crops in the past month.I am with you on taking a break!. This septmeber is really warm here in midwest zone 5. It is drying up everything. The asters are covered with bees which is good!.I envy you getting more pesto made, I did not grow enough this year-darn!!! I need to get it right next year…I have more garlic than pesto ….still working on getting it right-lol:-)

    • Benjamin says:

      Our September has been crazy-warm, too. But the humidity was low, so it was nice. I remembered to plant my basil in increments this year, so we had a nice steady crop all summer long. (although one patch was stricken with some kind of black, leaf-wilting problem.) I’ll probably be picking all of it soon enough because as soon as the season even hints at frost, it’ll be bye-bye basil 😉 Happy October! Cheers, Ben

      • Robbie says:

        You have a Happy October too…yep, one of my large patches was having that problem also…good to hear your basil making was not hindered!

  10. asonomagarden says:

    Beautiful goldenrod! I just bought some at a nursery the other week to add to our yard.

  11. Our squirrel population stays mostly up the hill–they don’t like the cats. Some young deer have been grazing increasingly close to the house, and they impudently just stare at me when I stomp onto the back deck in an attempt to shoo them away! The woodchucks are my real problem, but I’ve learned to live somewhat harmoniously with them. They are welcome into my compost bin because I think it keeps them from trying to burrow into the vegetable garden. The other day I approached the bin to chuck in a bowl of trimmings and found a chuck complacently sitting right in the middle, with a green bean hanging out both sides of his mouth, rather like a little mustache. It was comical, to say the least!

    It’s been very dry here, too, and I keep forgetting to water the spinach seed I planted four weeks ago, so no homegrown baby spinach for the kids’ sandwiches this fall! I made a nice batch of pesto sauce last week, and have enough basil to make another very soon. Mine is blossoming like crazy, too.

    I wish you a lovely October!

  12. Debra says:

    Gorgeous searing colour. These are beautiful photos.

  13. That is a fabulous picture of a sunflower!

  14. The squirrels love to stash in my containers as well. Makes sense to them I guess, I guess – nice, soft place to dig, dense plant cover. But it is maddening.

  15. Julie says:

    Lovely colours in your post today – I love the field of goldenrod. The temperature has dropped dramatically here today – I fear our long summer has drawn to a close.

  16. Emily Grace says:

    Beautiful yellows…

  17. such a great shot the sunflower. Gorgeous contrasts of colour.

  18. Make pesto as the air chills? That works!!! PS, I hear ya about the squirrels. So much for fall lettuces! *sigh*

  19. Ayslyn'sCorner says:

    Now I’m all homesick… :-/ Lovely pictures though.

  20. I think you and I’ve got the same squirrels. they’ve been hiding stuff in and around our potted plants too.

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