The Dog Days

The Dog Days

An August morning. A  house finches flashes ruby, resting on a daylily stem beneath a yellow flower before attacking the feeder again. The grey squirrel climbs the post and holds on with his hind legs, extracts seeds from the portholes and then feasts while his body sags earthward.

The birds fly away, unwilling to do battle with such a large creature, knowing there’s more food just a short distance in my neighbour’s back yard.

The dog days are supposed to be hot, fit only for lying about on the patio, drinking beer or coolers or wine or gin and tonic, but today opens like a day in September, after a cool night. The yellows and oranges and whites of the August garden, with a hit of vivid mahogany from a daylily whose name I have forgotten turn the cool white and green of early July into a county fair of colour.

All ready we’re thinking of what we should move, where we should cut back, how we should reorder the plantings.

Is it time to simplify? Now that we’re older and the garden is too, do we need to cover some beds with grass and leave the garden to the lawnmower’s whine?

Perhaps some day, but not yet.

The front of the house is more difficult—a smaller space but out-of-control. The heat from the grey stone that encloses four squares and lines the new bed turn the garden from a mid-Ontario zone 5b into something approaching a Mediterranean climate. In June the purple of the lavender loomed over the mauve of mother-of-thyme, set off by stands of daffodils. The lavender and thyme seed everywhere: into the cracks between the pavers, at the edges of other plantings, one tiny grey-green spike of lavender popping up amongst a clump of alyssum. We didn’t plant the alyssum, not this year. Another volunteer who found the winter mild enough to survive.

The roses suffer. Too much heat for varieties bred for a northern climate, like us, perhaps, struggling across the country with weather more suited to southern locales.

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