Summer to Fall

The changing of the seasons, illustrated

The viburnum was midsummer, a month or more ago. Its tiny flowers like birthday candles, blooming out on long days.

Summer wasn’t what it was supposed to be, sipping 7-Up, riding dirt bikes, making holes in the sand by the lake. Oh but that was thirty years ago. We are the backstage crew now. The digging endures — kids did their swimming, lounging, fighting, laying upside down on the couch, head on the ground feet up, faces licked by the dog, growing out of shoes, snacks, scrapes, hot dogs. It was a sweaty one. They probably didn’t notice. Is it a virtue to have or not have air conditioning? The end of summer is abrupt.

I learn the laurel’s spots are “fruiting bodies.” They are galaxies in small scale.

A few weeks in and the jet lag of back-to-school is settling out. September has been dry. The leaves are brown and crisp like potato chips, not the burst of yellow cheer we need. Spiders are back making their babies in hidden corners, stretching their strings. I sweep them down. Long division appears in a backpack. The tiger moth caterpillars are white and mysterious, devouring the hydrangea. I wear gloves and toss them into the gravel. Do they enjoy that moment of mid-air? Many of them will make it to flight, fluttering up at each footstep.

On the river, the cormorant appears. Where did you come from you not-a-duck sneak, slipping in from somewhere. No one likes you. You are not the bright egret or handsome heron. Your pierce-blue eye tells true, I know more than you.

We buy shoes, boots. There will be stews and baked things soon. The plants make a last burst of growth before the cold comes. It is a midlife crisis. We enjoy the late blooms and final tomatoes of their enormous efforts. Mist hovers where cool air touches warm ground. Halloween approaches. Christmas lists have begun. Fall snaps into place and is a relief of sorts, though winter looms. The moon falls brighter than the sun.

(Previously: Spring to Summer)

Amy Jean Porter is an artist who lives in Connecticut. She illustrated the forthcoming book The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes edited by Natalie Eve Garrett (powerHouse Books, Fall 2016).