The change of seasons in mid-summer is a subtle one, much more subtle than the rapid spring melt in April, or the first snow in late fall. But change it does, and as this blog claims to document the seasons, I try to notice when patterns of change come together. Over the past two weeks several changes have occurred that force me to admit that late summer has arrived.
One of the first signs summer is passing the mid-point is the hay harvest, mostly for feeding beef cattle; dairy farms cut their hay nearly two months ago, and are now into a second cut.
And here at home our own harvest occurs in early August, the garlic. The Head Gardener grows something like 22 varieties of excellent garlic, and for two weeks both the garage and shed are filled with garlic laid out to dry.
Elsewhere in the garden, there is still lots of colour, but the Brown-Eyed Susans always seem to mark the beginning of late summer to me. All the other bright flowers have been in bloom, now the daylilies are winding down, but the bright Brown-Eyed Susans will now last for weeks.
Away from the garden it's the goldenrod that starts turning the meadow yellow. We have a lot of it out back.
On farms around the valley, the wheat is ready for harvest. As you drive around, the golden fields of wheat are perhaps the most obvious sign of mid-summer in the landscape. Haying is pretty well finished, while corn and soybeans are still green, but wheat is ready for the combine - today this field has already been harvested.
We also have a lot of cooler nights and mornings, often with heavy dew. These tamarack needles were showing off the dew in the morning sun just a few days ago.
And of course, though I hate to mention it, the early leaves start turning. This is Virginia Creeper, most of which will end up bright red. It's only a few shrubs turning colour yet, but it's a taste of things to come.
So 'summer' is over, and 'late summer' has arrived in my mind. Tomorrow I'll share some info about all the crops you see driving around the valley.