Did a couple of garden jobs today that I should have done long ago: pruning the lilacs and planting beans. I told myself even as I pushed the seeds into the dirt with my chopstick that there is no way these plants will make it to maturity before frost, but I had just pulled up the pea vines and couldn\’t bear to leave a garden bed unused. The beans are the last planting of the 2011 vegetable garden, which is headed for the home stretch. The squash and pumpkin vines are seemingly taking over the earth, and the white cabbage butterflies are having their way with the broccoli. I ate the first tomato a couple of days ago: a single marble-sized gold nugget. Before I know it it will be apple-picking time.
I realize we\’re still in July, but summer is definitely on the decline. Driving down the country roads you can see that the trees and bushes are getting that blowsy, overripe, middle-aged look. An almost invisible wash of brownish yellow–the plant world\’s equivalent of the first gray hairs–has come over the foliage. The verges are lined with goldenrod and black-eyed susans, both colored the mustard-yellow that succeeds the clear lemon shades of spring. The poison parsnip flowers, which at their peak look like a yellow version of queen anne\’s lace, have turned an unequivocal brown.
It doesn\’t bother me that summer\’s on the wane. I dread the prospect of hot, humid weather, and I rejoice that with each passing day we are closer to the coolness of September. We had a couple of days in the high 90s a while ago, and it felt so miserable that, after resisting for six years, and with the specter of global warming growing more real all the time, I finally threw in the towel and asked my husband to get an air conditioner for our second-floor bedroom.
Without ever having been turned on, that air conditioner has already made a huge improvement in our quality of life: as soon as the unit was installed, the weather turned dry and cool, and looks to stay that way for the next ten days. And after that, it will practically be September.