About a week ago, I noticed some yellow leaves on the grass under our Yoshino cherry tree. That tree sends down a few of its leaves every year as summer starts to wind down. This year, for me, it was the first intimation of autumn.
Other years, it's been the dwindling number of lightning bugs or the onset of crickets. The lightning bugs are now fewer and the crickets are building their chorus. Shadows are longer and afternoon light more golden. Autumn is coming, ready or not.
The water in the pool at Meadowbrook is cool most mornings. The pool heater has been running. Some of this is because we recently had another cool snap. Several evenings in July required sweaters at dinner, a cotton blanket and quilt when sleeping with windows only half open, more like New England than sultry Baltimore. This year has thankfully been greener and cooler. I've only had to drag the hose once.
We still have baby wrens in the wren house, but I know it is their final brood of the year. That is the only time they use the little house. They are still inside and grow louder each day. Soon they will fly away, and the house will be empty until next year.
The outdoor painting on our house is finished for the season. The kitchen and garage roofs have been repaired. More snow rails have been installed on the back roof. An extra long downspout was added to carry water away from the west side of the house, where a driveway was cut in 90 years ago. That change greatly reduced the amount of ground available to absorb water by the house.
In seven-inch storms, like one in April, we end up with a swimming pool in the basement. To cut down on that possibility, we have turned the downspout to the side and have added about four feet, so water now shoots into the backyard and not into the narrow strip of land by the basement.
The outside of the house is almost ready for hurricane season and winter. Not the inside. The ceiling in one bedroom needs repainting after last year's ice damming. The living room ceiling needs repainting and repair, too.
A steam pipe above that ceiling sprang a leak last winter. The plumber came promptly, cut the ceiling open and clamped the pipe. We haven't repaired it yet, but the carpenter just opened the ceiling more for easy access to the pipe. He went beyond the call of duty. Noticing how many paintings we have, he cut the plaster and lathing with a handsaw instead of a dust-inducing electric saw.
He's now about to repair the back gate and make covers for the window wells on the driveway. Anything to keep water out of that problematic area will help during the next monsoon.
A jolt came a week ago. I was sitting in the backyard eating lunch, when I looked up and saw a large ruffled, peppermint-striped flower at a distance. It was an amaryllis blooming. Normally, it blooms at Christmas!
I am certainly not ready for Christmas and I am not ready for summer to be over. Shorter days, with sunsets before 8:30 p.m., make me know I had best pay attention to summer before it ends.
I want to keep swimming outdoors with the blue sky overhead. I want to finish reading "The Goldfinch," the longest book I have tackled in years. I want to eat a meal on our neighbor's porch and on another friend's patio.
I want to go swimming with some young friends and their children, including our great-nephew, who has just learned to swim. I want him to meet my sister's son and daughter when they come to town. I want to have another night of Bird Bingo with a little boy named Hudson. He fell in love with that game when we were at the beach in June with his family.
I want to take a godchild to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and go with my sister to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. I want to eat outside at the Ambassador Dining Room with my husband and take more walks with him after dinner. I want us to go out for an ice cream cone.
We have not done that yet this summer, and by all signs, here comes fall.