Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Early August

It's been a while since I shared an essay from my favorite nature writer, Hal Borland. The start of a new month seems like a good time for it. Enjoy.

"August comes with hot days, warm nights, a brassy sun, and something in the air, perhaps the season itself, that begins to rust the high-hung leaves of the elms.The listless leaves of the maples have a dusty look and the sycamores and basswood are hung with seedy fruits. Sumac holds its candle-flame clusters, red as the sumac leaves will be in September.
First goldenrod comes to bloom along the roadsides, and early asters appear, lost in the clouds of Queen Anne's... lace. In damp places the purple vervain leads the parade of darker color that already begins to show in the first flower heads of Joe-Pye weed. Thistles flaunt their thorny tufts of deep lavender, and tick trefoil is in weedy bloom, its small lilac flowers preparing stick-tight pods. Bur marigolds, masquerading as roadside sunflowers, come to blossom, and great Lobelia lifts its blue spikes above the podding milkweed.
Brooks languish in their stony beds. Only the grandfather frogs groan and rumble in the dusk. The Whippoorwills are less insistent, and now a Barred Owl is heard questioning the night. The big, dark moths haunt the flower garden's deep-throated flowers, gleaning nectar the August-lazy bumblebees overlooked. The night still twinkles with fireflies but the day's heat lingers and the air has a dusty August scent, the smell of languid summer. And overhead the warm air touches the treetops, rustles the rustling leaves in the broad-tipped elms."

Hal Borland
"Twelve Moons of the Year"
August 1964

Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor


  1. OMG, I used to own this very book! I haven't thought of it in years, but yes, he's a great nature writer. A friend and I used to joke about his repeated reference to "stridulating" insects. That was definitely a new vocabulary word for us!

    1. I WISH I owned a copy of this book! I've checked it out from the library, but it's out of print and impossible to buy unless you're willing to spend a small fortune from a used book dealer! You should find your copy, Steve!

  2. Lovely, Thank You.

    cheers, parsnip

  3. Pleasant and observant language - showing such passion for nature. Clearly, Hal Borland was not referring to Yorkshire.

  4. That was definitely a new vocabulary word for us!

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  5. early august meaning, definition, English dictionary, synonym, see also 'as early as',early bird',early warning',early night/late night', Reverso dictionary, English ...

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