Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On the Down Side of Summer

The days are growing shorter. I don’t want to admit it, but I have to. It’s 8:29 and nearly dark. A month ago I’d still be able to work outside. Of course, the up side of the changes in the season are the slightly cooler temperatures, which means I can spend more of the remaining daylight hours outdoors doing something productive. It’s a toss up – a trade of one opportunity for another. The trick is to take advantage of whatever opportunity presents itself and get the job done.

Since I became a homeowner, I’ve started collecting a plethora of tools for both indoors and out, including some pretty nifty power tools – a bit intimidating at first, but they do the work with speed and efficiency. I love my cordless, electric weed whacker almost as much as my old-fashioned, foot-powered reel lawn mower. Shovels and grass clippers, spades and trowels – the list of my acquisitions goes on and on.

The one tool that I most often forget to bring with me when I venture outdoors is arguably the one I miss most when I don’t have it. From nearly the beginning, I’ve been documenting the changes in the yard (not always to be classified as “progress”) with my trusty digital camera. Long after the flowers have faded and the grass is covered by winter snows, I’ll be able to remember and share my gardening adventures. It’s also proven an invaluable way to remind myself of how much I’ve accomplished on those days when all I can see is what’s left to be done.

Much to my chagrin, I don’t always bring it with me and, more times than I care to count, I’ve wished I had. Just yesterday I was admiring the cluster of three bee balm varieties near my bird feeders. A quick motion caught my eye. At first I thought a small hummingbird was flitting among the flower heads just a hand’s reach away. I looked more closely and realized it wasn’t a hummingbird at all, but a moth whose green body and rapidly fluttering wings mimicked a hummingbird to perfection. If I’d had the camera with me, I’d have a picture to post with my blog entry. Alas, the hummingbird moth (Common Clearwing, Hemaris thysbe) is an opportunity lost. Maybe it will return another day when I’m close by, camera in hand. I hope so.

I’ve discovered that more often than not, the garden is forgiving of my human failings, whether its forgetfulness or neglect. The garden wants to grow, visitors come and go, and I’m here to do my part.

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