More Wolf’s Bane?

Wolfs Bane Coming Into Bloom

This has been a goofy mixed up year for weather.  The spring and early summer were extremely cool and delayed many plants by almost a month from their normal cycle of growth.  For the most part this wasn’t too bad but one plant that blooms late in the summer is wolf’s bane.  And as of today, the very last gasp of summer, the leaves on the plants are turning yellow and the flowers aren’t even buds yet, they’re bumps.  What we have here is a foot race between flowers and frost.  Last night it got down to 36°F.  That is dangerously flirting with freezing.  There are two more nights of near freezing temperatures coming up before a warm up is predicted.  I don’t like my chances here.  I need a miracle.

Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “What’s the big deal if some stupid plant doesn’t flower?”  Well, that’s a fair question.  I’ll try to explain.

The Calendar tracks the path of Earth as it performs its seemingly eternal dance with the Sun.  And here at the Autumnal Equinox we mark the point where the northern latitudes lose their grip on the sun and slip into darkness.  For millennia the inhabitants of the North have recognized this moment and celebrated it with various harvest festivals and religious myths like the Death of Tammuz or the Rape of Persephone.  These solemn occasions were meant to memorialize the end of summer and the beginning of the harvest.

Nowadays most of us aren’t involved in farming and the advent of electric lights has lessened the impact of shorter days on our lives.  But for some of us the end of summer is still an extremely meaningful time.  As I have so often stated here on the site I am an avowed therophile (lover of summer) and the autumnal equinox is like a death knell for me.  Like some primitive soul I atavistically search for a formula or spell to help me fight off the fear of darkness and believe that summer will reemerge on the other side of the sun all those months in the future.  And for me the first step is to take the last gasp of summer, the blooming of the wolf’s bane flowers and tie that to the next great festival on my calendar, Halloween.

For Halloween begins  for me with watching the classic Universal horror movies.  And I always start with Dracula.  Here we see Dracula square off against Dr. Van Helsing for possession of the soul of Mina Seward.  And in this battle one of the prime weapons is a garland of wolf’s bane.  Vampires hate it and all good vampire fighters carry it with them.  And later on in the Universal series we will come to the Wolfman.  Here we are told:

Even a man who’s pure at heart

And says his prayers by night

May become a wolf when the wolf’s bane blooms

And the autumn moon is bright

And that is the link between summer and wolf’s bane and autumn and Halloween.  And Halloween gets you to Thanksgiving.  And Thanksgiving gets you to Christmas.  And Christmas has to get you to Easter and the beginning of spring.  But it all starts with wolf’s bane.  So wish me luck.  If nature lets me down I’ll have to take drastic action and invoke the only other Summer/Halloween talisman I know of.  I’ll have to have an early showing of “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”  Bradbury’s story provides a direct link between summer and Halloween by way of the carnival theme.  Carnivals are summer and end of summer events.  But in the story we have a Halloween arrival of a dark carnival that is looking to ensnare souls.  The battle between good and evil is to my mind the battle between summer and autumn.  Between life and death.  Okay, that’s the end of my raving.

End of Summer 2020 – A Rambling Maudlin Dithering Dissertation

It’s customary to declare summer in the United States over after Labor Day.  Other people look at the Autumnal Equinox as the end of summer as well they may since it really is the beginning of astronomical fall and the point at which the nights become longer than the days.  Some more practical folks just call it over when the kids go back to school.  Of course, during the COVID panic there is no school so that’s sort of irrelevant.

Here at the compound we have a more poignant measure.  Summer is over when the hummingbirds leave.  They left yesterday.  Camera Girl is sad.  She told me I should memorialize this event with a post about the end of summer.  As the ever-solicitous husband, her wish was my command so, here I am prattling on.

It is funny though how exactly these birds seem to define the end of summer in this exact locale.  Already, even on a day that reaches eighty degrees, the air is different.  Drier and lighter.  And the late afternoon is cooler and breezier.  And now by seven p.m. the sun is gone and only twilight remains.  The leaves are coming down at a decent clip.  These leaves are yellow and must be coming from some of the species that lose them early, the cherry and the birch.  But it’s the start.  Next the maples will start turning.  The oaks will hold out the longest, well into October.  But it’s the start.  And because the leaves were starting to fall Camera Girl, who is, like most women, a practical creature had the pool company close the pool down and put on the cover this week.  Maybe that’s what tipped off the hummingbirds.

And Camera Girl informs me that the birds that haven’t left yet go to bed earlier now.  By dinner time they’re gone.  So, all in all, the whole natural world around me has conceded the end of summer 2020.  But not me.  I rail against it.  Oh, soon enough I’ll shift my attention to fall foliage photography and then onto reviews of horror movies for Halloween.  But not yet.  I still haven’t seen a preying mantis this year.  I haven’t gotten a picture of a heron on the pond or a painted turtle in the pond.  I still want to try the 600mm lens with a hawk in flight.  So, though I promised Camera Girl to declare and mourn the end of summer I will use this last full week of official summer to hunt my last summer targets.

All Outrage and No Fun Makes photog A Dull Boy

In the immortal notes and lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin:

“Summertime, an’ the livin’ is easy

Fish are jumpin’ an’ the cotton is high.

Oh, yo’ daddy’s rich and yo’ ma is good-lookin’

So hush, little baby, don’ you cry.”

While statues of Lincoln freeing the slaves are being pulled from their pedestals maybe cotton fields aren’t the acceptable subject of song, especially with all that yo’ and mammy going on in the lyrics.  But here at Orion’s Cold Fire we appropriate culture with a rakish grin and a tip of the cap.

Anyway, we are bearing down on July and anyone who has been hanging around here for more than a year knows that July is my sacred time.  I live to have a week or two off during the hottest, sunniest, least wintery time of the year.  It must be my Mediterranean heritage.  Relaxing in a country environment during this time of the year with no work responsibilities is as close to heaven as I am ever likely to get either before or after death (being an irredeemable sinner).

Because of the COVID hoax I will be deprived of the annual pleasure of seeing all of my relatives this summer which is tragic.  But I refuse to let this insanity cancel this most joyful time of the year and I intend to fulfill all my usual rituals and revel in all the things I enjoy.  I intend to grill up a barbecue and eat watermelon and corn on the cob, enjoy potato salad and lemonade.  I’ll watch old movies and listen to music that evokes memories of the best of times.  I will photograph birds and bugs and flowers and I will sleep in a hammock under a tree and listen to the music of the wood thrush and the song sparrow (or at least a blue jay and a mourning dove).  And for a few days I will ignore BLM and antifa and Nancy Pelosi and even my soulless boss.

But what I will not ignore is OCF and the good folks who come here to see what crazy things I’m talking about next.  I will have things to say and reviews of things I like.  I will share photos and anything else I think might be interesting.  Things may slow down a little but there won’t be a gap.  What hopefully will be missing is outrage.  At this time of the rolling year I think it is more than desirable to forsake the doom and gloom that is so all encompassing in our daily lives and look for the good and happy and fun.  I will seek out the traditional sources of wholesome happiness and sling them at you folks with both hands.  I will accentuate the positive.  I will be jolly if it kills me.

And so, this is my intention.  It is possible that some new atrocity will preclude all this.  If the Jacobeans come marauding down the highway and torch the Compound then most probably my plan for revelry will evaporate.  Bad weather could throw a damper on my plans or illness could ruin it.  But I wish everyone out there a very happy high summer, especially you folks in the northern latitudes.  This is the time we look forward to during all those short snowy days and long frigid nights of winter.

Here Comes the Sun

22JUN2019 – OCF Update

“Summer, it turns me upside down
Summer, summer, summer
It’s like a merry go round”

Ric Ocasek

 

Well, it’s finally here.  Summer in New England.  And despite the cool weather, endless rain and soggy ground I will be rejoicing in the summer solstice and swatting mosquitoes.  I have guests this weekend and also some chores to accomplish but I’ll opine on anything that strikes my fancy and hopefully get out and take some photos of the gorgeousness that is summer.

 

After you’ve read enough sexbot articles on Drudge maybe switch to something interesting

 

18JUL2018 – OCF Update

Greetings readers old and new.  As is my want, or as less pretentious people would say, my habit, I like to let you know what is coming up on the site.  This week is my annual stay-cation.  For eight full days I make believe that my corporate masters have been swallowed up by some beneficent plague that only spared the good.  I revel in the joys of summer and put all cares aside.  After monsoon-like thunderstorms deluged us yesterday, the world has been swept clean and the air is hot and dry just the way I like it.  I’m hosting my annual family reunion on Saturday but with days off on both sides of the big event, I see plenty of time to produce excellent OCF posts all week.

  • I’m renting the “Contemporary Series” version of the Sigma 150-600 lens and the Sony 90mm Macro lens.  They should arrive today and allow me to post on how they perform for the things I would use them for.
  • I plan to yammer on about the joys of summer.
  • I have a photo post I’m going to write about moths and butterflies and maybe other insects in my area.
  • I have some things to say about several political topics.
  • I’ll start reading some more sci-fi which may provide a review this week.
  • I plan on doing some classic movie reviews.
  • I might have some country music reviews coming up too.
  • And I plan to include this summer’s installment of my rant about the Twilight Zone.

Looks like a good week to visit the site.

July

The line goes there are only two seasons in New England.  Winter and July.  Usually I have this big family gathering in July.  It’s a ton of planning and communication and it sort of monopolizes a good chunk of the month with the before, during and after.   But conflicting commitments have forced me to schedule the event in late August.  In a way, this is kind of a good thing.  This means I can enjoy July on its own merits.  So, the New England statement about July acknowledges the fact that July is pure summer.  June can start out feeling like spring.   August can end up feeling like fall.  July has no excuses.  It has to deliver.  Too many children (and adults) are depending on it.  On Bastille Day, I want to look up at a pale blue sky with a blazing sun forcing me to close my eyes and feel the heat of the daystar on my face.  I want to lay in a hammock under a shady tree and hear the deafening whir of the cicadas in the trees overhead.  I want a hot breeze to blow over me and feel the oven-like heat surround me and make me think that jumping in a swimming pool is actually a good idea.  I want a glass of lemonade to seem tempting.  I want to be so lazy that reading an old book like Dandelion Wine sounds strenuous.  I want to put off anything difficult like watching old movies or eating ice cream until night.  I want to watch a baseball game as if I actually care who wins.  I want to take my grandsons fishing.  I want to take the perfect photo of the Milky Way or a dragonfly’s eye.  I want to write a classic short story.  And I want to spend one whole day just trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

As you can tell I’m pretty passionate about July.  Truth be told July belongs to me.  I patented it many years ago.  I own it lock stock and barrel.  So, I feel it’s my duty to reap the maximum benefit from it every year.  And once it’s over I relinquish my hold on summer.  After that it’s fitting to put aside childish things.  It’ll be time to start considering the realities of the calendar.  And sure, there are all kinds of things to look forward to in Autumn.  There’s Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas ahead with all that those entail.   But never again for the rest of the year ahead is there that feeling of pure freedom.  Maybe it’s my Mediterranean blood.  Possibly northern peoples don’t crave the intemperate heat of July.  Or maybe if I lived in a southern state I would have my fill of heat and shun July’s burning sun.  Maybe.  But neither of these is the case.  I truly believe that if July disappoints and does not present me with the extreme weather I crave then my whole year is spoiled and I will go into the colder seasons weakened and at a disadvantage.

So, you see July is my time.  Maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way.  But trust me, July belongs to me.  The rest of you just get to borrow it.  But I don’t mind sharing.  You’re welcome.  Enjoy.