Friday, August 1, 2008

Beside Clayton Road

Though it is the first morning of August, already the landscape has a hint of fall to it. It's hot - no doubt about that - and summer is fired up to its very peak. But I think it's the general dryness, maybe even a tiredness, that seems pervasive. Along S. Clayton Road, just north of our house, is a particularly pretty stretch of weeds: Queen Anne's Lace and chicory mostly. They haven't been mowed in weeds so they've had a chance to grow tall and put forth copious blooms. Maybe it's the mixture of white and powder blue that I like best about this spot. But it alos the wind that moves them and makes them seem even more alive. Passing cars help, too.
This view is facing north and just about 300' north of Pinehaven.

Walking a little farther north, crossing the road, and looking southwest, you can appreciate the height of the corn. It's easily 8' in this shot and I've seen nearby fields where the corn has surely topped out at 10'. I'm not sure that's the goal. Instead the plant should be putting all of its energy into creating kernels. But this is the every-other-year we love best, when our house is buried within fields of corn on all sides, and we seem to sit at the bottom of a green pit. What glorious privacy!
In this shot (below), Pinehaven is behind the catalpa trees on the right. Clayton Road is blessed with little traffic, particularly in the morning when everyone has already left for work. I heard the newspaper be delivered at 6:15 a.m. and watched the flashing lights scan the ceiling, but the road has been mostly quiet since. Early night (10 p.m. to 2 p.m.) is another story. I suppose folks are returning home (if they can find it) after an evening of revelry.

Nearer the woods and also north of the house, yellow hawkweed takes hold. It is not a plant I remember as a child. When we traveled each summer to Bear Lake, Michigan, I remember the common orange hawkweed, something I found similar to our common dandelion (in that they were common in all lawns; not that they looked a thing alike). So now we have a hawkweed of our own. I'd prefer the orange; it's more showy.

Finally, our catalpas are now heavy with their long beans, many 15" or more in length. As a child, my grandfather, planning to go fishing, would scope out a catalpa tree and find the common worm that eats the leaves. I haven't seen many worms around here though they seem to be heavy one year, nonexistent the next. Even now, fishermen have stopped and asked if they could check our trees for worms but I think they've left empty-handed. None have come back again.

The catalpa is a tree that has certainly lost favor. Who has ever seen one in a nursery? Yet they grow commonly here along old fence lines. Our trees are very old and probably nearing the end of their lives. When they drop their leaves in the fall I always think this might be the last. But then the next spring they explode with green and soon enough another crop of beans hangs heavy.

Surely this is the tree that stands behind the "Jack & the Beanstalk" story.