Last call for summer

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

winter tansy 1

The other morning I noticed an odd thing. In the clump of dried brown tansy stalks beside the porch, one clump of yellowish green leaves remained.

winter tansy 2

A closer look revealed a single blossom. Ordinarily, tansy blossoms are confined to the flat-topped head. They bloom in mid-July. Their leaves are so astringent, they repel almost all insects — which is why I grow them: they make a great mothball substitute. Also, I’ve used them in brewing, in lieu of hops.

But what made this one sprig’s clock go off so late? July is always when I start to notice harbingers of autumn: curly dock leaves turning purple, the first orange appearing on the black gum trees. Five months on, it seems that there are still a few forgotten corners of the natural world where the news of summer’s surrender has yet to penetrate. I am reminded a little of my partying days, how I always used to get my second wind at 4:00 in the morning when everyone else was nodding off. “Hey! C’mon! There’s still plenty of beer!”