The end of summer

IMG_2617It still feels summery in the Berkshires, though there are signs of change everywhere. Most of the butterflies and many of the birds have already started their long journeys south. A family of strident blue jays has taken up residence in the willow which the hummingbirds leased during the summer. As dawn was breaking this morning, I heard the plaintive call of the barred owl in the woods: “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?”  But, for the most part, the mornings are much quieter now, except for the refrigerator-like hum of crickets and cicadas.

IMG_2635Though melancholy, it’s still a beautiful time in the garden. As the foliage dies back, you can see the plants’ intricate architecture: the bristling seed heads of the echinacea and monarda or the dried-out allium florets like so many Fourth of July sparklers. The sunflowers collapsed overnight, and the heavily seeded, blackened discs are being picked over by the birds and chipmunks. And the wild flower field has ossified —  like the lost citizens of Pompeii.

IMG_2626The sun slants differently now and has ripened into a syrupy gold. The signs are unmistakable. Far bigger changes are coming. Here’s a favorite poem on the subject.


End of Summer by Stanley Kunitz

An agitation of the air,

A perturbation of the light

Admonished me the unloved year

Would turn on its hinge that night.


I stood in the disenchanted field

Amid the stubble and the stones,

Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me

The song of my marrow-bones.


Blue poured into summer blue,

A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,

The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew

That part of my life was over.


Already the iron door of the north

Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows

Order their populations forth,

And a cruel wind blows.

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11 Responses to The end of summer

  1. Beautiful, as always. I love these…..the flowers, wildlife, poetry. Fall is such a beautiful season …love the softer sun and light. The air is cooler and easier for me to breathe. It is often sad to see this season pass, but isn’t there often a tinge of sadness with beauty…..

  2. Phyllis Azar says:

    Great piece and poem. Thanks! =p

  3. Beata M. Newman Scarpulla says:

    Dear Liza,

    Beautifully written and so right on, your feelings and the poem as well.

    Thank you.


  4. Beautiful, Liza
    I thank you for sending me such upbeat things. like you, I LOVE nature and I love
    Thanks for sending it!

  5. thank you for another wonderful poem, Liza – exactly my sentiments.

  6. annette shear says:

    as usual, you “nailed it”!
    I particularly liked the description of the Allium!
    now, as you get ready for Paris, I hope you will find time to send along
    your thoughts of Autumn there… should be lovely
    Have a wonderful time!

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