A LATE BLOOMER

Suddenly, it’s fall.

Yesterday, on the principle that here in New England you take seriously every warm, humid hour given you, I wore shorts. Then the latest typhoon arrived, just one of a series this past summer that have threatened our driveway and awarded our property a second creek. We hunkered in. Even Aussie, forever proving her adolescence as well as her renegade Dixie origins, stayed indoors. Water pounded the roof, the blooming dahlias, and the leaves changing color, and when we woke up this morning the last two were down.

I don’t mind. The air is cooler and fresher, full of momentum, a reminder to let the past go.

But running with Aussie this morning, I stopped to admire the small pond in the picture, remembering a March afternoon when the pond was still frozen and Stanley ran across, only to find the ice cracking under his weight. I stood on the road and saw the surface turn from white to dark as the icy layer fell into the water, and Stanley with it. OMG, I thought, toss the winter jacket and boots, jump in to save him, and probably freeze to death. They’ll find our two bodies under the ice come spring. But there was no need for heroics, the dog pulled himself back on the ice and scampered to the safety of shore, never to run across that pond again.

I will miss the orange and yellow dahlias most of all. We had red dahlias and burgundy-colored dahlias all summer, but the orange-and-yellow waited till September to bloom. When they first started coming out I did a double-take: Where did you come from? And why now?

Like them, I feel like a late bloomer.

A late bloomer watches all the other flowers come up and wonders why she’s still staying in the ground. She sees the early tulips and the day lilies cavorting with the apple branches, she sees the irises getting their beards, the phlox turning pink, purple, and white, everybody kicking up a storm in this warm, wet, Amazon-like summer, while she remains un: underground, undecided, uncertain, unseen.

And then one day, when it’s almost too late and fall is just around the corner, she comes out. A human looks closely: Look at that! Did you know that was there? Wasn’t there last summer, right? Nope. And not the summer before that, right? Right. But now she’s there, flashing her colors shyly, waving hello to the nearby purple asters, taking her place in the garden.

When autumn comes her petals will drop off like everyone else’s and the stems will collapse. But there will be next year.