Texas coneflower (Rudbeckia texana)


In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.
                           “Song for Autumn”  ~  Annie Dillard


Comments always are welcome.

33 thoughts on “Ripening

  1. I believe Mary Oliver and Annie Dillard would both consider you an excellent student, with your lovely capacity to see the beauty and timeliness in nature’s gifts.

    1. Those are kind words, eremophila. Thank you. I’ve learned much from both Dillard and Oliver over the years, and try to put some of those lessons into practice. Add in Georgia O’Keeffe’s advice to “just look!” and life becomes far more interesting.

  2. The image and the poem are well-matched, and both have a serene beauty about them. Fall is indeed about to revisit us, despite a summer that seems never to end this year, yet the animals go about the business of winter storage, knowing that they must prepare for what lies ahead.

    1. I’ve always enjoyed autumn, and the season’s serenity is a large part of my enjoyment. It’s easy to slip into a focus on fall’s flamboyant colors, but other aspects of nature’s change are just as appealing, if more subtle.

    1. If I’d seen this in isolation, I would have thought ‘Mexican hat’ myself. When I took the photo in late July, I had still-blooming flowers in a large colony to compare it with. There was quite a bit of variety among the flower heads, and I wasn’t sure which coneflower I was looking at, but the leaves finally did the trick. Otherwise, I might have thought it was another coneflower species.

  3. That’s an unusual and terrific poem, usually poems about autumn and winter always talk about things finishing up, winding down, and going to sleep. I like this idea of all these things in nature eager to continue on their journey and progression

    1. That’s the sense of things I get from the poem, too. “Eager to continue their journey and progression” is just right. And what an ending she gives us. It takes a moment to realize what it means for piled firewood to ‘be on its way.’ She has a gift for avoiding cliché and sentimentality that appeals to me.

    1. Dare I suggest great minds, and all that? I’m constantly finding new species, and often being puzzled by them. Last weekend I found one of those DYCs (darned yellow composites) that I just can’t identify. I’m hoping that I can go back to the place where I found it and pay even closer attention to the leaves and stems. It’ll depend on how damaged the little patch of flowers was left after our storm.

    1. I’m glad you think so, Lavinia. Autumn beauty doesn’t have to be dramatic, and autumn as a season doesn’t have to be sad. Lying fallow is part of the land, and part of life. It’s a good time of year.

    1. As long as it’s not the Iceman that cometh, it’ll all be good. Believe me, we’re hoping you get your coolth soon, because the sooner it gets there, the sooner it will arrive here. Also: a nice norther drives away tropical weather, and a large number of Texans are ready for that to happen.

    1. I couldn’t quite put my finger on one detail in the poem: her use of ‘everlasting.’ I wonder if it could be a reference to the plant called pearly everlasting , which has clusters of tiny white flowers that look rather like snow. I don’t know if Texas gardeners plant it. It might not thrive here, since the USDA map shows it only in Hale County.

      I’m always pleased when I find a nice pairing, and I thought this was especially effective.

    1. Thanks, Tom ~ it’s nice to see the first turns toward autumn here and there.

      I wasn’t directly affected by the flooding, apart from being unable to get out for a couple of days because of water-covered roads. On the other hand, the worst flooding wasn’t that far away – perhaps sixty miles. There still are a few flooded roads, but that won’t last much longer. We’re lucky there wasn’t strong wind with all the rain.

  4. September, near its ending, brings a certain closure to the heat of summer, as the days become a bit cooler with just a faint hint of Fall in the early morning air. For me, the ripening of the gorgeous wild flowers such as the coneflower brings a certain sadness knowing that there will be no more blooms to admire, no more butterflies to watch until the cycle is repeated the following year. Your photo is quite lovely even with no bright colors of the seed head. There is one consolation though- knowing that some of the seeds will sprout in the spring.

    1. One of the things I enjoy about living here on the coast is that there are flowers of some sort nearly all year long. Even after last year’s hardest freeze, in January, I found some flowers blooming down at the refuge. Granted, they weren’t very enthusiastic about it, but there they were. Of course there were no butterflies, but the flowers still were lovely.

      Our temperatures haven’t declined much, but the lowering of the sun in the sky makes a difference. I could feel it at work today. The wind was out of the east rather than the north, but it was drier, and almost pleasant. I spent most of the day sneezing, too. Somewhere, something is sending out pollen — or so I guessed.

  5. Thanks for sharing the beauty that is the natural passing of time. And thanks too for Annie Dillard’s words that I should be reading also. You always do find “just the right words” to accompany your posts.

    1. I’m not someone who reads voraciously, but I do re-read my favorites regularly, so I sometimes remember a poem that fits an image nicely — or I remember a poem, and then go looking for a photo to go with it. This one started with the image, just because it was fall-like. Real changes haven’t started here yet.

  6. Ah, yes. The piled firewood. Our firewood pile at the lake is getting smaller and smaller. I’m not sure we’ll make it to close-up, but I hope so. This will be a work week up there — putting things away, storms on and all that. I’m headed north tomorrow; Rick plans to ride up later. But it’s pretty nippy! We’ll see how it goes!

    Beautiful image, Linda. It’s perfect for the Dillard poem.

    1. I always know when a cold front’s on the way, because our grocery stores begin stacking firewood out front for the apartment fireplaces: three split pieces for $5. It’s so funny. Everyone loves a fire, I guess. Up in the country, we always had enough wood from naturally fallen trees to keep supplied. I never did any of the splitting, but I could stack with the best of them.

      I hope all goes well this week, and I hope your weather’s gorgeous. There was just a hint of dryness in the air today, and a beautiful blue sky. It’s about time! I’m anxious for the weekend — I want to get out and see what’s happening around the countryside.

  7. I also took the “everlasting” to mean Pearly Everlasting. They are one of the very few flowers left to bloom here, and if the forecast is correct, they will receive those “first tuffets of snow” this weekend.

    1. I was pretty sure I’d seen the Pearly Everlasting on your blog, but I hadn’t gotten around to looking it up yet. It is such a pretty plant, and it’s nice that it stays in bloom to ‘meet the snow.’ I hardly can believe we’re moving into fall and toward winter. I hope you had a good summer, and plenty of flowers to enjoy. I’ve missed your posts — I hope Buster’s doing well, too.

    1. The flowers and seedheads of all these coneflowers do resemble one another. I think I might have heard of cutleaf coneflower — maybe even from you — but it’s not common here. In fact, it hardly exists in Texas. The USDA map shows it only in Jasper County: coincidentally the name of the Iowa county in which I grew up.

    1. ‘Earthy’ is a good word for both the poem and the image. I love autumn, especially the earthy smell of wet leaves as the season goes on. Oliver has such a way of capturing a season’s spirit — just wonderful.

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