A Brief Study in Seasonal Contrast

Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I spent several hours trimming and tidying up the yard, bushes, and flower beds.  While I worked, I had the opportunity to look closely at the remains of a luxurious growing season.  Perhaps you think there is nothing to see in a garden this time of year.  And, if you are looking for the vibrance and voluptuousness of summer, you would be right.  It is true that the plants I tucked in for a long winter’s nap were mere skeletons of their former glorious summer selves – dried out, brown, and brittle.

And yet….

These perennials displayed a spare, fragile grace that I found beautiful and moving in its own way.  So, smack in the middle of raking leaves and pulling weeds, I felt compelled to grab the camera and attempt to capture the fleeting and inherently sad loveliness I was seeing.  I’m sharing the best of the shots here along with some images from the summer.  It’s quite a contrast, don’t you agree?  Let me know what you think.

Coneflower (August)

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Coneflower (November)

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Lacecap Hydrangea (June)

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Lacecap (November)

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Tea Leaf Vibernum (September)

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Tea Leaf Vibernum (November)

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Mophead Hydrangea (June)

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Mophead Hydrangea (November)

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A Small Happiness (or two)

I’ve been taking advantage of the slower pace of summer to do some de-cluttering.  While I was sifting through a stack of outdated magazines, I came across this question in the January 2011 issue (yes, things have really piled up around here) of Real Simple:

What is one small thing that always makes you happy?

I love questions like this because they force me to be mindful of even the wee things that impact my life and emotions.  Today, my hydrangea bushes are my little source of happiness.  I currently have four plants which are in various stages of bloom: one mophead (full bloom), two lacecaps (just beginning), and one PeeGee (not yet).  This morning I indulged in a second small happiness by taking some photos of the beauties.

Happiness is not a station you arrive at,

 but a manner of traveling.

Margaret Lee Runbeck