That’s what they are. Improbable.
Although I settled in Lowndesboro in June of 2014, Sherod retired from All Saints on August 31st and arrived here on September 1st of that year. I had also arrived after summer had taken strong hold in Alabama, so the first real sense of the passage from one season to the next happened at this time of the year for me and my spouseman, and here we are, now back in that kind of time, now for a fourth year.
I continue to watch more carefully, have more time to look, and more reason too, when I drive here than I ever did in South Florida. Our closest full grocery is almost 20 miles away. My job is 27 miles away and though the routes to each are different, both go through lovely farmlands and forested, rolling hills. Fortunately we have not had the drought conditions of last year, nor the implacable heat. Where last year, by mid summer, fields and trees and just about everything I looked at, was withered and brown, this year, the shades of green have been lush and juicy all season long. As I drive to work on Highway 80, with the sun newly risen, fields are still incandescent in the morning light. I smiled today, driving down the hill next to the farm with a flock of sheep. One of them had her front legs up on the fence, a look of contentment on her face as she chomped away on a vine.
With four years of marveling at so much beauty, I have also learned the contours of the pathways through which time and the seasons slip away. How the trees on Old Selma Road, have a fairly thick coat of dust now so they are not quite as verdant to the eye as before. A very few already show some of the beginnings of a change in color. I saw a V-formation of birds earlier this week and on more than one morning, walking out to feed our chicken ladies, our new boy cat Gilbert and sweet girl cat, Sunny, I felt that slight crispness in the air, the harbinger of cooler weather to come. The Black-eyed Susans bloomed lustily for weeks and now are just about gone. Watching those small shifts is like checking off a list: “Yep—this happened right on time. Yes! There’s that next sign now. Wow—that one’s a little early but certainly welcome.” I delight in the sense of knowing to anticipate a change and give myself a high five for having known what to look for next. From there it is quite easy to feel a little smug, like “I know this place.”
So it was with some surprise that late last week, I realized something red had caught my eye as I was driving on Old Selma Road. I slowed down, backed up and looked. Oh my stars! I had completely forgotten. Just totally lost any notion of the beautiful red lilies that bloom as summer ends and autumn begins. Their stems shoot up with very little foliage so I don’t notice them until they are in full color. They look a little absurd and certainly improbable, coming up so late in the growing season, a stem or two here, perhaps a small clump there, but most of them solitary in a sea of green. They are also exquisite, and I can’t believe it was so easy to forget such beauty. But the forgetting, at least this time around, made for a kind and charming, end-of-season, unexpected and undeserved gift.
I slow down whenever I see a field blooming with these lilies. I remind myself not to hope for summer to pass too soon, nor time to move any faster than it does, even if I am hot and sticky and ready to sit quietly with a book in front of the fireplace.
I stop to give thanks way before it is time for thanksgiving.