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A hummingbird feeds on agapanthus blossoms. Photo by Martha Stafford

My wife and I aren’t diligent gardeners, so we greet the good things that grow in our yard as a nice piece of luck. Our luck has run high this summer as rain and sun conspire to create a bumper crop of blooms.

While making coffee each morning, I can glance out the kitchen window and see the agapanthus near the porch. The blooms make globes of purple or white, the blossoms perched at the end of long stems like sparklers from the Fourth of July. Coneflowers hover nearby, their centers as big and orange as egg yolks. Out on the patio, sunflowers tower over the barbecue grill, bright as pinwheels in the first sun of the day.

They’re almost as dramatic as the petunias, shaded bubble-gum pink, that greet the postal carrier each afternoon when she brings our mail. I’m partial to the black-eyed Susans we see each evening as we eat outside at dusk. My wife surveys them at the close of the day, and the only real news they bring is the simple fact of their presence. That seems enough for a gardener who wants to bring down the curtain on the dinner hour by looking at something pretty. She’s pleased to watch the flowers, and I’m pleased to watch her as she does.

My wife cuts some of our flowers and leaves them in vases around the house for us to enjoy. Coming home from the office, I find stray petals dropped to the floor of the den or dining room, bright bits of color littering our footsteps like the confetti that lingers from New Year’s Eve. The lively mess reminds me that flowers don’t last very long — nor, for that matter does summer itself. The fleetingness of the season has fascinated poets for years, so to note its impermanence is really nothing new.

But the quickness of summer — and the quickness of everything else — is something I’m noticing more as I get older, as I mentioned in a column last month. While cleaning out our SUV on Memorial Day weekend, I’d come across some needles from the Christmas tree we’d brought home last year. That moment underlined for me the speed of the calendar, which can nudge every season, including summer, out of view before we’ve had a chance to truly notice.

Is it wise, though, to wish summer any longer, especially if you live in Louisiana? “I’ve gotten used to the idea of dreading summer and waiting until October,” a reader told me not long ago. It’s a feeling I’ve also come to know, especially as I’ve grown less tolerant of heat. The summer peak of hurricane season here is another big reason to see the season as something to endure rather than embrace.

I’ll welcome autumn when it arrives. In the meantime, on most days, the scene from the window is something to savor. 


Email Danny Heitman at danny@dannyheitman.com.