Bagging Gold

Cucumber-leaf sunflower (Helianthus debilis) ~ Galveston Island
All afternoon his tractor pulls a flat wagon
with bales to the barn, then back to the waiting
chopped field. It trails a feather of smoke.
Down the block we bend with the season:
shoes to polish for a big game,
storm windows to batten or patch.
Narrowleaf sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) ~ Attwater Prairie Chicken Refuge
And how like a field is the whole sky now
that the maples have shed their leaves, too.
It makes us believers—stationed in groups,
leaning on rakes, looking into space.
Partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) ~ Galveston State Park
We rub blisters over billows of leaf smoke. Or stand alone,
bagging gold for the cold days to come.
                                                          ~ David Baker


Comments always are welcome.
For more information on poet David Baker, please click here.

62 thoughts on “Bagging Gold

    1. It was so enjoyable to see these bits of color emerging in the past week or two. The partridge pea is lingering a bit past its season, but the goldenrod will be at its peak soon, and it certainly brightens the landscape, as do the sunflowers.

    1. We’ll not become as cold as you (at least, we hope for no more repeats of our statewide freeze), but our landscape can become rather dull by January and February: another good reason to treasure this season’s gold.

  1. Our yellow flowered friends are finished here in Iowa. They put on a good show each year. The first three days of this coming week might set some record cold lows and highs for the dates. Goodbye tomato plants.

    1. About Wednesday, that cheering you hear will be coastal Texas, celebrating a high in the mid-sixties after our first strong frontal passage of the fall. Your end-of-tomatoes weather will come to us as a vast relief from the heat and humidity — especially if it brings the predicted 1″-3″ of rain with it. On the other hand, I just looked at your forecast. My goodness. A little frost on the pumpkin is one thing, but sub-freezing temperatures are another!

    1. I’ll bet your orange cosmos resemble the orange poppies a friend grows. When the sun’s just right, they shine as though they’re made of glass. Once the front gets through, I’ll bet the goldenrod is going to really pop. The way my squirrels are acting, they’re expecting cooler weather, and putting on as much fat as they can.

  2. “Bagging gold” — what a great way to express it! (And so like a poet to say it that way!) You’ve got some gorgeous gold in your photos, too, Linda. Yellow and gold are so cheerful, and they really stand out amid all the greenery still hanging on!

    1. We have a variety of sunflowers that extend into the autumn months, but it was a surprise to find the partridge pea. It may be that the bits of rain we’ve received were enough to encourage a second bloom. In any event, the gold is cheering. Now, it’s time for the goldenrod and maximilian sunflowers to grace us with their presence.

      By the way — I still am not getting email notifications of your comments. It’s curious enough that I send off a note to the WP gurus, asking them to follow up. It’s not a problem, exactly, but at this point I’m really curious about the cause.

        1. Can you believe this? Your current comment just arrived via email. Perhaps someone already has taken a look at the issue and resolved it. Imagine that. We’ll see.

    1. Some day, someone is going to produce a video filled with sunflowers or goldenrod with this song as the audio track. Whether it’s wheat, or barley, or goldenrod, or sunflowers, there’s something heart-stirring about a golden field. I thought the poet caught it well.

  3. I remember seeing golden rods growing up but haven’t seen them in ages. We are blessed with a sunflower that came up in the corner of our backyard with one flower and more to come. Love these Texas fall golds.

    1. Somehow I thought you’d have as much goldenrod as we do, but that seems not to be the case. This map shows the only species that’s really common down your direction, and it may be a little patchy in the surrounding counties. I’m glad you’ve got your sunflower; have you thought about planting more, so they can brighten up your yard?

    1. Jeanie, I’ve kept that poem in my files for more than a year, waiting for the season to turn again so that I could use it. I’m glad you liked it. It always brings to mind those days before leaf blowers and leaf mulchers: days when we did rake leaves, and lean on rakes, and watch the kids jump into the piles of gold leaves.

  4. Lots of golden glory this time of year! Partridge pea grows here, too. I’ve never had it in my garden, but it grows in my neighborhood. Such a sweet flower. Lovely shots, Linda!

    1. Thank you, Tina. I’d thought the partridge pea was done for the year, since it had disappeared from Brazos Bend when I was there. It was quite a delight to see it blooming at a couple of spots on Galveston Island. They’ve had a bit more rain, so that may be what brought the new growth. It is a pretty thing, and certainly is as bright as the sunflowers and goldenrod.

    1. And aren’t we glad for those variations? My favorite — the Maximilian — is still to come. Dare I say that it my mind, it ‘rules’ among the sunflowers?

    1. And I didn’t even include the goldenrod. Let’s face it; between the tourism industry and the calendar makers, the colorful trees just have better publicity agents!

  5. For many years while our children grew and living in Connecticut, bumper stickers of every description adorned the hall bathroom door, Tacky, I know. Back in the day I like to say. One such sticker said “Tulane Nurses have Lagniappe.” It was Blue and green and had a T with a wave breaking over it. Not a common word that, but one we have known the meaning of for so many years. Now, retired to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, we have an acre on the shore, by the Chesapeake Bay. Just love all those Bonuses, living by the sea. Lagniappe, thats for me.

    1. You learned early what Twain discovered: that ‘lagniappe’ is an immensely useful word, and a charming practice. I see a lot of LSU bumper stickers and window decals around here, but I’ve never seen one from Tulane. It’s good to know their nurses have that “little something extra,” too.

      Thanks for stopping by. It’s always good have a new visitor, especially one who shores up the discussion so well!

  6. Bags filled with golden images and golden words stored away to be brought out one future dreary day to fill the room with light and pleasure.

    A week before Hurricane Ian trundled through our yard, I visited a nearby state forest with my grandson who was visiting from Philadelphia. The pine woods margins were absolutely overflowing with blooming Partridge Pea. Waves of yellow under green canopies. Amazing!

    1. In the prairie section of Brazos Bend State Park, I’ve seen partridge pea blooming just that enthusiastically. It’s quite a sight. The last time I was there, they’d given up the ghost, but the plants on Galveston Island seem to have perked up; I was glad to find this especially pretty one. I suspect your grandson enjoyed yours as much as you did.

    1. And there are so many combinations of purple and gold: far more than I realized when I began looking around. In the first photo, it’s bindweed that adds that touch of purple. I still think beautyberry and goldenrod are the best combo.

    1. Autumn gold shines, wherever it appears. Absent the glorious leaves of the season in this region, it seemed reasonable to seek out other golds, and let the poet’s words speak even more broadly. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Gretchen.

      1. Oh, yes! Your photo was also poetry! What a beautiful shot! Thank goodness for this front, my friend. We opened the front door and opened windows. So delicious! Thanks for your awesome post. I hope you get to enjoy these next few “chilly” days!

  7. I’d say Baker could have said “banking gold” as well. You’ll be able to enjoy summer’s gold into the depth of winter with these shots, so to speak for Houston.

    1. And the depths of winter are lurking. Our first real front of the year came through yesterday, and tonight our lows are going to drop into the…….fifties! With a stiff north wind blowing, today will be the first morning of the fall that requires a jacket.

      1. It’s all relative, of course. We’ll see a frost tonight or possibly a real freeze. I had to bring in my cactus collection for the winter. They can handle a little chill but no chances will be taken. We’ve been having wood stove burns for a few nights now and likely will keep going until April next.

  8. The yellow flowers of fall are a wee bit of a consolation prize for the winter to come (yes, I know that means something entirely different to me as I look at a thermometer that says 39 degrees right now!)

    1. We’re closer than you might imagine, temperature-wise. Our lows tonight and tomorrow night are going to be around 50, and north of me in Houston it will hit the 40s. There’s nothing like the first ‘real’ fall front to bring smiles — not to mention long pants at work. I suspect the mums and sunflowers are enjoying it, too. I’m glad we don’t have snow in our future, but a little frost on the pumpkin would be just fine.

    1. Another interesting feature of the plants is the presence of nectaries apart from the flowers. I finally managed to get some decent photos of them despite their small size, and will be posting about them. I didn’t realize so many plants have ‘EFNs,’ as they’re called: extrafloral nectaries. The ants love them!

    1. Partridge pea is a flower that ranges pretty widely. I’ve seen it in Arkansas and Kansas as well as in Texas. It’s a pretty thing that grows with multiple flowers on a stem, and it’s often as much as two or three feet tall — quite a splash of gold.

    1. That’s an interesting question. Some graduate student somewhere may have developed a database, but I can’t imagine doing it for all fifty states. One thing is certain; it could take an entire lifetime to encounter them all.

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