Halcyon Days

The last days in October are always the same here in Southeast Tennessee. Morning glory blue skies, gently angled sun rays, the last flowers scent the breeze, the sound of busy pollinators buzzing frantically amidst the open blooms make for days of unequaled beauty.

But it is the knowledge of impending killing frost that makes these days of calm and delight even more dear.

I revel in the out of doors until the cold comes knocking, with a hand sewing project and a chair in the dappled shade of the multi-trunk silver maple on the lower deck. Kitty is by my side, luxuriating in the sunshine.

The needle is inserted in the designated spot and is grasped with thumb and forefinger on the other side of the fabric. I look up at the garden each and every time as the thread is pulled through, gazing out to the scene that is so pleasing to me. Over and over again, slowly, to make the moment last even longer. The idea is not to get finished, it is rather to live the utter perfection of these days, minutes, seconds over and over again.

Never before has the garden held me in its grasp like this, or so it seems. When the arm’s length of thread has been used up and needs tying off, it is the signal to get up and walk about the leaf strewn pathways.

The butterflies and bees cover the flowers that are still warmed by the sunshine. Yellow sulphurs are the most plentiful and have adopted the Cuphea ignea as their main meeting and eating spot.

The Dahlias had stopped blooming without being deadheaded in my recent absence, but more buds were noted as the job was done upon my return. Dahlia ‘Mystic Spirit’ has burst forth as the frosty forecast looms.

It will be cold soon, some things will perish, some things will hibernate to rise again in spring, there will be more warm days before winter finally settles in as the day length shortens. That is the way of it, harsh as it might seem, but it as it should be. (The above shot is of a surprise guest, newly emerged from the chrysalis hidden on the back of a metal sprinkler that was resting against the stucco wall of the garage under the deck. It is believed to be a Gulf fritillary butterfly. May he/she enjoy these last halcyon days.)


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10 Responses to Halcyon Days

  1. Cyndi says:

    I totally understand your sewing projects to take in the last few days from your porch and fingers nimble enough to be able to take stitch by stitch without wearing gloves! I have been madly collecting the last few tree leaves available that still shine before the frost totally discolors them! Most are brown already and on the ground. I have been pressing them for weeks and taking my last cuttings of my zinnia and celosia to enjoy for another few days. They have done exceptional this year. This is still my first year gardening in the cabin and new growth native wonders still pop up, and I not knowing what they are until investigation. Thanks for sharing your garden with me this year!

    Smiles, Cyndi

    Smiles back to you, Cyndi. Being in a new garden is the best, waiting for the surprises that could pop up. The nimbleness of my fingers is not what it once was, but going slower helps make me enjoy the task that much more. Such beautiful days last week, it is cold now but the beauty is still out there. Good for you saving the leaves. I have pressed them and also dipped them in wax to help preserve their magic. The zinnias were late starting here, but had a fabulous run, too.

  2. What a soothing post…I found the rhythm of my breathing going slow and steady as I savored your lovely words and pictures. Thank you.

    Thanks to you, Michaele, for your readership and kind words. This is the time of year to slow down and savor each moment. There is nothing to do that cannot wait a few moments longer.

  3. Beautiful pictures, the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis is amazing. Here the butterflies have fled or gone into hibernation by now.

    Thanks Garden IAC. I fear for the health of the little newborn butterfly with the sharp drop in temperatures and a freeze warning for tonight. I hope it can find shelter until the weather warms up again, as it surely will before winter comes for real.

  4. Leslie says:

    It sounds so idyllic, your sewing in the garden. I love the way you write–so poetic. I really enjoyed this post.

    Thank you, Leslie. I believe the garden does bring out the wannabe poet in me. So much beauty there…

  5. Lola says:

    Such a wondrous leisure waiting for the coming cold watching each plant doing it’s best to entertain. Loved it.

    Hi Lola, thanks so much. The warmth was glorious, I tried to draw out every last second of time to make it last longer.

  6. Ann says:

    Beautiful thoughts and pictures of the last days before frost.

    Thanks Ann. The days were beautifully radiant. We still haven’t had the first killing frost, but it is coming soon.

  7. You paint such a pleasant autumn picture. Kitty is obviously very happy in the moment. We’ve had several frosts and freezes here already, yet the days are still pleasant. So I’m trying to spend time outside as much as possible. Enjoy your halcyon days, Frances.

    Thanks Plant Postings. Good idea to spend as much time outside now as possible before we are stuck inside for the winter. I often bundle up and work in the garden then anyway, if the ground is not frozen.

  8. Your ferns in the stone trough look wonderful especially in that lighting.

    Thanks Green Bench, I thought so, too. They will fade to cream before crumpling up after a hard frost. That is also lovely.

  9. Gail says:

    I can see you in my minds eye, sewing, then walking the garden, pausing to enjoy and talking to Kitty. All happy images. Speaking of images~the garden looks delightful. xoxogail

    Thanks Gail, for following me around the garden. It was sublime, the weather, the colors, the sewing, everything about it.

  10. Love ferns.

    The yellow sulphur colouring is clever for autumn.

    Hi Lucy, thanks for visiting. The sulphur butterflies were so numerous, more than I have ever seen at once. The cold has come now, I wonder where they all went? Someplace warm and cozy, I hope.

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