Topsmead is the perfect place to escape the heat of August and savor summer, but do it while you can. Fall is lurking.
Stroll around Miss Edith’s cottage. Yes, the pots of flowers artfully placed on the tops of the cottage’s stonewalls and at the kitchen steps are blooming merrily, but look closely and you will sense that they are reaching their peak. Yes, flowers in the gardens are soaking up the sunshine, but look carefully and you will notice poodle skirts of fallen petals spread on the ground beneath the phlox.
Then, follow the gravel drive out to the classic New England stonewalls bordering the fields. If you look closely along the tops of those walls, you may see a red leaf or two glistening gemlike and adorning the grey surfaces of the stones. Those red leaves are the first vibrato notes of the clarion call of fall.
Next, venture onto the dirt road beneath the pine trees. Yes, the hot rays of the sun warming up the rusty brown blanket of fallen pine needles are generating a rich, pine-y fragrance that wafts up to envelope you as you walk along, but at the back of your mind, you know that the chilly winds of fall will inevitably arrive to disperse those warm breaths of summer.
Finally, follow the dirt road beyond the four corners and expand your gaze to encompass the fields of Topsmead all the way to the butterfly garden. Yes, the butterflies are a sight to see as they flutterfly among the blossoms, and the breezes that invariably blow across the top of the meadow are delightfully cooling, but you may be sad to see that the summer hay has been mowed, leaving the brown golden stubble of a five o’clock shadow on the fields.
After dark, close your eyes and perk up your ears. Listen. Can you hear them...? The light, raspy, end-of-the-summer sounds of the katydids have begun.... As those sounds rise to a crescendo throughout the rest of August, they remind us that fall is lurking.
Yes, summer always ends up being shorter than we think, but if we can consciously savor it right up to the last minute, then when it’s over, we can savor its memory and welcome fall with an open heart.