The long, hot weather of summer is ever so slowly releasing its grip on the days of August. It’s barely noticeable at this time of year in a zone 9 garden unless you are very observant or a native, unschooled in the dramatic changes of the seasons. The leaves on the sycamore and elm (pictured here) trees have taken on a soft golden hue, as though they are in need of a dose of fertilizer. Squirrels are busy devouring the green holly berries that are just beginning to take on a slight blush. And while the afternoon temps continue to stretch into the 90’s, there is a different note in the morning air. A subtle coolness that permeates the first air of the day, a lighter feel that is not burdened by the heavy blanket of humidity. A freshness that encourages you to stand a little taller and take a deeper breath. Deep inside a spark of anticipation is ignited at the premise of the long-awaited fall season in the garden.
Once upon a time in a secret garden nestled between the gnarly roots of an old oak tree sat a small village where the wee people dwell. Fairies and sprites - invisible spirits so tiny they can only be heard and not seen by the eye. A fair maiden and a gray-haired crone tend their village garden. Together they water, weed and plant the much-loved flowers.
As these elusive beings flutter around and dart back in forth, the gentle breeze of their gossamer wings is heard through the play of the chimes that hang from the tree. The only noticeable sign of their visit is a trail of shimmering fairy dust left behind from the previous night’s festivities. They lead a carefree life filled with song and dance.
At the stroke of midnight they drape themselves in luminous jewel-colored necklaces, don their flower hats and dance around the giant mushrooms as the moon and stars perform their celestial symphony. They are joined by an assembly of night creatures – white iridescent moths performing their dance of pollination, a background chorus of croaking frogs and owls who join in from high above with their harmonious hoots. It is a blissful village surrounded by a stone wall, a bevy of colorful flowers and a trustworthy gnome who keeps watch for evil spirits.
Here’s a heavy-eyed lizard enjoying an afternoon siesta on a palm frond. Warmed by the sun, he dozes off and on, keeping an eye out for predators and the occasional nosy human in search of a garden photo. When I was a kid, these brilliant-colored green lizards were plentiful. These days they seem to be rare, having been replaced by the dinosaur-looking brown anoles. Seeing one now is always a real treat!
When my sister was little she took to calling every lizard she saw by the name of Charlie. I’m not sure whether she thought it was always the same lizard or not. Eventually, everyone in the family would say, “there goes another Charlie,” every time one scampered across the patio.