After a long hot wet summer, it was wonderfully strange to wake to a chill in today's air; it got better: The 67-degree high set a record for the date. Even if (when) the hot mug returns, today is a reminder that summer's end is in sight.
Exactly when autumn will banish summer remains an annual unknown, but here's another reminder that the hot season of ripeness is going fast: The last magnolia bloom has faded away.
For years, I have welcomed the first magnolia blossom, inhaled its lemony sweet fragrance that always recalls hot Southern nights in places I've lived – my native Alabama, then Mississippi and Georgia. And, in of all places, a garden I built and loved in Connecticut, where this image was made of last summer's first blossom on my Southern magnolia 'Bracken's Brown Beauty'. It smelled as beautiful as it looked.
This year, I pay equal attention to the last magnolia bloom. Back in the South, in Georgia again, the 'Little Gem' magnolia I planted (at left in the image at the top of this post) put out several blooms, ending this season with one final flourish, like a beautiful human – vibrancy fading, skin crinkling, youthful vigor dropping to the ground, petal by petal.