A bumblebee and a butterfly are competing for space at the top of a purple coneflower. Crickets and cicadas conspire to announce the sad departure of my long unstructured — or at least entirely self-directed — August days. Blueberry twigs sag under the burden of their bulbous shining fruit. Japanese beetles form double and triple deckers on the spent rugosa rose blooms. An army of ants executes an attack on the aphids on the underside of a sunflower leaf. Hummingbirds visit the bee balm and geranium heads, then swoop in tandem shuttle-flights chirping over territory or danger or perhaps a love song I can’t understand. Zucchini grows twofold in a day’s time — the right size for picking before the dew dries, then nearly too big as the sun sets.
Meanwhile, inside the house the carpenter ants are taking over, one room at a time. They gather in corners, dragging out the now poisoned corpses and leaving the crunchy carcasses for my bare feet to find on the cold tiles of the mudroom. Countertops have gathered dust and every surface is cluttered. The couch is disheveled — blankets and pillows thrown askew. Newspapers, magazines, books, and a play script lie haphazardly on the coffee table and dust balls occupy the spaces under furniture, on the stairs, and in forgotten corners. We spend few waking hours indoors during the summer months. All efforts are turned toward the outdoor living spaces during our non-working hours. Weeding gardens, mowing lawns, splitting and stacking wood. Repairing garden fences, picking berries, harvesting vegetables.
The day demands constant movement among the many tasks of country living. Occasionally my book or sketch pad or laptop beckons, even during the daytime hours, reminding me to slow down, slow down, s l o w d o w n and find the pause button on this most fleeting and most delicious of our Vermont seasons. Only a few precious days of summer remain.