Posted by: scribe9 | February 20, 2010

Signs of the end of summer

How do I know it’s late summer? Let me count the ways:

  1. The big blue flowers along the roadways are fading and going to seed. Those would be mop-head hydrangeas—one rarely sees pink ones—planted even along some rural roads, and large agapanthus, which shows up in many gardens and along many roadsides (it reseeds so readily, and spreads so aggressively by root, that it may get deemed a noxious plant here), mostly blue but occasionally white. The agapanthi are immigrants from South Africa, like so many people and plants (including red-hot poker and birds-of-paradise). On the south island, some of the roads were lined with lupines; no doubt Miss Rumphius had been there.
  2. The acorns are starting to drop from the oaks.
  3. Local pears and Gravenstein apples are now available. Yes, I eat the local varieties too, but Gravensteins are too good to pass up—and they are grown here.
  4. A few sweet gum trees—which are American imports—are starting to turn, and litter the sidewalks with their spiky fruits. I’m not sure there are many other trees up here in the subtropics which will provide much fall color.
  5. The sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is in bloom along the side of our garage.

Having late summer in February was a little hard on one of our Valentine’s Day traditions. Since 1975, Rick’s given me daffodils and I’ve made him frosted sugar-cookie hearts–but daffodils won’t bloom in the southern hemisphere until August. 

I did bake the cookies. And had I not eaten too many New Zealand desserts (caramel slices are extremely tasty and calorie-laden–sort of a second inversion of German Chocolate Cake), I would have made a Lincoln log on Abe’s birthday. I won’t make a cherry pie for George’s birthday, either–they don’t grow pie cherries, just sweet cherries, here and I can’t bring myself to use those. So all of you–particularly those in Oregon, Washington, and Michigan where they grow the right kind–have a slice of cherry pie for me.

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