Dreamy, magical light of summer-autumn


“Then followed that beautiful season…summer…Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light, and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.” — Henry Wordsworth Longfellow

This is how this quote often appears online, as a reference to the summer season, but in its original context, Longfellow’s Evangeline, the description is actually of autumn:

“Now had the season returned, when the nights grow
colder and longer,
And the retreating sun the sign of the Scorpion enters.

Birds of passage sailed through the leaden air, from the
Desolate northern bays to the shores of tropical islands.

(taken 5 Oct 2013)
(taken 5 Oct 2013)

Harvests were gathered in; and wild with the winds of
Wrestled the trees of the forest, as Jacob of old with the

All the signs foretold a winter long and inclement.
Bees, with prophetic instinct of want, had hoarded their
Till the hives overflowed; and the Indian hunters asserted
Cold would the winter be, for thick was the fur of the

Such was the advent of autumn.  Then followed that
beautiful season,
Called by the pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape
Lay as if new-created in all the freshness of childhood.

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Peace seemed to reign upon earth, and the restless heart
of the ocean
Was for a moment consoled.  All sounds were in harmony

Voices of children at play, the crowing of cocks in the
Whir of wings in the drowsy air, and the cooing of pigeons,
All were subdued and low as the murmurs of love, and the
great sun
Looked with the eye of love through the golden vapors
around him;

While arrayed in its robes of russet and scarlet and yellow,
Bright with the sheen of the dew, each glittering tree of
the forest
Flashed like the plane-tree the Persian adorned with
mantles and jewels.”



It’s still summer here in some respects — hot weather (83F as I began this post late morning two days ago), high humidity, dragonflies and bees busily working, hummingbirds speeding and dodging by all day long, grasshoppers leaping from under each footfall, flowers still blooming, summer harvest (especially of green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers) still coming in strong, rains delayed — but in other respects, autumn is beginning: sunset at about 7 p.m. now instead of 8:30 p.m. as it was in late June, deciduous trees and shrubs turning red, yellow, brown, and dropping leaves, nuts and copious pinecones on the ground, fungi popping up in the woods in spite of the lack of rain, wood asters starting to bloom.


So many fungi on the local trails lately:

Hygrocybe Sp. (Waxy Cap) mushrooms
unID’d pink mushroom
Clavulinopsis fusiformis (golden spindles) fungi
Clavulina cristata (white coral) fungi
red and white mushrooms

I think the blue spruce is expecting a hard winter:



Today, I have returned to this post, after two nights of rain. It’s 68F in the early afternoon, with the next week’s high temperatures forecast in the 60s and 70s, lows firmly in the 50s.

The rains bent the back border to the ground:


You can see that the veronicastrum (Culver’s Root) is starting to turn:


The asters in the garden are just starting to bud; soon they will be covered in bumblebees in haste to make honey while the summer shines.



By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather,
And autumn’s best of cheer.

(from “September” by Helen Hunt Jackson)

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