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Thursday, August 25, 2005


Naked Ladies are out strutting their stuff, and the "ache of summer"


Naked Ladies, botanical name "Amaryllis belladonna", also known as Belladonna Lillies. They grow from bulbs and lie dormant until late summer. Then you see them emerge in gardens as well as by the side of roads, highways, and trails. The plants are hardy and the blooms fragrant. The stalks and blooms are both said to be toxic. The common name, Naked Ladies, derived from their looks. A 2' high leafless stalk topped by pink clusters of flowers. Think of tall, willowy women with pink hair. Lovely--I mean both the Naked Ladies and real ladies, naked or clothed and not only tall, willowy ones. I have read that the foliage appears in spring before the plants bloom. However, no one pays attention to them until the flowers appear. Light pink is the color commonly seen in the San Francisco Bay area. They come also in red, mauve and white but I have not seen them.

Naked Ladies, I © musafir

A group of them © musafir

Less than four weeks before the end of summer of 2005. With the shadow of war hanging over us it has been a joyless summer for families that lost their near and dear ones as well as for those who grieve for casualties of all nationalities. Such a waste of human lives. So utterly senseless.

The seasons have their place. Here is an item by the late Philip Hamburger that appeared in The New Yorker some years back.

"A piercing blue sky, gentle ocean breeze, low humidity, clean air. But what Seamus Heaney has called "the ache of summer" is increasingly palpable. Darkness will clamp down earlier and more suddenly this evening--one moment a rich, haunting Maxfield Parrish blue, the next pitch-black and night. Hard to face, but wouldn't you know, summer is ending and it is time for memories...Night is falling. There is a chill in the air. Winter will come. And go."

Magnificent. He said so much in so few words. Philip Hamburger was a resident of Wellfleet,Massachusetts, and wrote lovingly about the Cape. He died in April 2004.

Having just returned from a vacation on the coast, for me the "ache of summer" is real. But I take the seasons as they come. Not hard to do here in Northern California; the seasons are not harsh.


Enjoyed your beautiful blog on the changing seasons. Philip Hamburger's words are tinged with such a profound understanding of life. After losing my mother last year, I have seen more rainbows, watched countless tiny, colorful birds in our backyard and heard my neighbor's garden bells chime more than ever before. These must be mother nature's gentle reminders of how beautiful life is and how fleeting at the same time; that change is inevitable, just as the "ache" of summer is. I take these signals as constant reminders of Ma's presence. Memories sustain me. That is all I have.
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