The arrival of Hurricane Harvey ushered in an unseasonable cool spell here in Middle Tennessee, and the last fragments of Hurricane Irma arrived before those blessedly cool days could give way to our regularly scheduled heat and haze. I wouldn’t wish a hurricane on anyone, but I admit to being grateful for the rain. I drove alone to Birmingham in a gray mist that turned the foothills of the Appalachians into a magical landscape, with fog gathering in the valleys and edging the fields, and shreds of clouds clinging to the trees. I had the highway mostly to myself, and the solitude and silence made it easy to forget I was in an automobile on an ordinary interstate in Alabama. It was an effort to remember to watch the road and not the fairyland I was driving through.
Four days later I came back home to full September, that in-between time when temperatures hover near the nineties even though the leaves have already started to turn. Out in the garden, not much is still blooming aside from the zinnias, and even the brightest zinnias are shabby-looking these days, covered with their usual late-season dusting of mildew. The creatures I planted them for don’t seem to mind. The bees and butterflies are still working indefatigably, and so is my old friend the red wasp. Our resident hummingbirds are gone now, but migrating hummingbirds keep arriving to visit the fresh blooms. And all day long goldfinches leap from stem to stem, tearing apart the faded blossoms and feasting on the seed at the end of each curling petal.