Summer has drawn to a close and the fall season holds sway once more over the garden and the Iowa countryside where I live. I love the colors of the trees as Mother Nature brings out her autumnal paint brush, and the crisp air quickens my footstep. Still, I long for summer to continue just a little while longer.
Now just a memory, I savor the beauty of our lush summer and its peaceful, pastoral setting.My wife and I live in a verdant valley dominated on either side of the beautiful Iowa River by heavily forested bluffs.The soil here is considered the richest in the world, found elsewhere only in the Ukraine.We live within the confines of a 25,000 acre game preserve, where deer, ducks, geese, swans, bald eagles, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, the occasional cougar and bobcat, and countless other animal species make their homes amid abundant supplies of food and water.Also located within this preserve are several areas considered sacred by Native Americans in the region.Evidence of their ancestors in the form of arrow heads, spears, pottery, and beads is offered up by the soil along streams and in plowed fields.
Visitors to our gardens often comment on the beauty of our village and the surrounding countryside.South Amana, which is known for its beautiful gardens, was recently named the third most beautiful community in the state by the Keep Iowa Beautiful Foundation, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Inc.The other six villages of our former communal society feel a bit slighted by this honor, and rightly so, since they all have a charm and beauty of their own.
I'd like to share with you several poems I've written that reflect the inspiration drawn from the beauty and peace that surrounds me, as illustrated by my photos below. Click on photos to enlarge.
From bluff to bluff: Iowa River Valley
Amid the confusion of the day, I seek solace in the primeval peace of your forested hills, in the ancient song of your pristine streams, in the echoes of a distant time that reverberate in the pieces of painted pot I pull from your damp earth.
Let me record your ancient melodies in my heart, so that I may play them again and again until they become the symphony of my soul.
My soul takes wing and, gliding through the gathering darkness, dances with the fireflies on a distant, dusky hill. Firefly Night II
Wild crab apples ripen in the early autumn sunshine
Trumpeter swan with cygnets
Entering South Amana on a hazy summer day
But a pale shadow of its summer glory, leaf askew and seed head heavy, the garden hunkers down to brace itself against the bluster of cold and ice that is winter.
Was it not just yesterday that I caressed the soft-petaled rose in passing? Savored the sweet scent of honeysuckle drifting over the sill? Plucked a determined weed amidst the mossy stones?
I can still hear the cicada as it drones its raspy song from a nearby oak, still feel the heat of the sun-baked soil on my bare feet, see the firefly in my mind's eye as it performs for me its luminous dance on the breezes of a soft summer night.
These are the treasures of summer that shall sustain me, that I have harvested against the coming chill, until once more the brightening ray brings news of earth's awakening.
An enthusiastic gardener for over 50 years, my first plant was a potted Ponderosa Lemon tree ordered from a comic book ad at age 15. I still have it, and itís still bearing lemons! My wife and I garden on 3/4 of an acre, both flowers and vegetables. Although our garden is private, it's listed with the Smithsonian Institution in its Archives of American Gardens and is on the National Register of Historic Places. We garden organically and no-till. Our vegetable garden contains a seed bank of vegetables brought to this country from Germany in the mid-1800s. For more info: http://davesgarden.com/community/blogs/m/LarryR/. Photos that appear in my articles without credit are my own.