It’s been a long, dry and warm summer, and the both nature and garden seem tired somehow, the autumn decay setting in. The horse chestnut leaves are turning, since mid-July, weeks earlier than usually; whatever ails them is getting worse. In the botanic garden, the fruit are ripe and flowers past their peak. And everywhere there are insects of every kind; greedy and desperate bees getting drunk on the last of the summer’s nectar, while the soldier beetles are greedy for something else. Late summer, like late winter, has never been my favourite time of the year; certainly not late summer like this, when the air is still warm and sticky but the lushness of the midsummer is gone. I find myself missing the moment when the wind turns – that inexplicable moment when the autumn is suddenly in the air, when the air is still warm but not quite warm enough for short sleeves and the evening light has a white glow about it.
I have always wanted to photograph a lavender field – there’s something glorious about the colour, the straight lines of the bushes, the overwhelming scale of purple stretching from horizon to horizon. We got to Hitching Lavender Farm on a hot early August Sunday; the fields were full of visitors like us, and so I didn’t quite get the wide-angle shot I had hoped for. The scent was ripe and heavy, the flowers full of bees, the air buzzing with them as they flew around, drunk on the nectar. It was a good day.
All photos have been scaled to 25% from original size with a batch processing software. Click images to see full size for best quality.
Today is the second day of St Giles Fair in Oxford, a date in the calendar that symbolically marks the end of the summer; Oxfordshire state schools start on the Wednesday after the fair, and the next big festival is Christmas. The end of summer compelled me to look at photos in my camera, taken while visiting Finland this summer, and somehow they didn’t quite bring back happy memories of a golden summer, even if the trip itself was perfectly pleasant. These are pictures of days so quiet times seems to stop (and not always in a good way), of doing nothing, of solitary walks when one’s yearning for company, of overcast days when the temperature refuses to raise above +16 degrees and the most exciting thing that happens all day long is heating the sauna.
I’m ready for the autumn.
In my fantasies, this is the garden of my cottage somewhere near the seaside.
Actually, these flowers all grown in the Oxford University Botanic Gardens. When I was still a student, I used to go there all the time, especially in the summers, sit somewhere for hours reading, enjoying the relative quiet. My heart bled when last summer they knocked down the Tolkien tree, an ancient black pine under which the writer used to sit, tree so big and so old it couldn’t hold its own weight anymore. One of my favourite Botanic Garden memories though is from the bleak midwinter of my first year as a student in Oxford. On a particularly grey, dull January Sunday morning, I walked around the gardens with a friend; the plants were dead and the flower beds empty, not even the snowdrops blooming yet. There was a fog – not a romantic mist, but the sort of damp, cold fog that the English winter so excels at, and we escaped its clutches to the nearest pub, where we sat by the fire, ordered lunch and watched through the windows how sleet started to fall. A day as perfect as it was opposite to this.
And there were perfect vegetables:
All photos were taken with SMC Pentax-M 1:2 50mm lens.