It’s feeling like Fall though we still have a few more days until the official arrival this Sunday. Well, this morning those weathermen warned us we were in for a rude awakening when we stepped outside today and it was best to take a parka … well they were right about that. The last week we’ve hop scotched from tropical to chilly to downright cold temperatures. I donned a tee-shirt and a sweat suit and was grateful that at the last minute I pawed through my off-season clothes to find my sweatshirt cardigan to add an extra layer before leaving for my walk. It sure was crisp and beautiful but breath vapors came out of my mouth when I mumbled to myself how cold I was. I turned my head upward seeking some rays from the sun which was still high in the sky and not emitting much warmth, so I walked briskly to the Park in an effort to warm up. As I wound my way around the perimeter paths at Council Point Park, along the twists and turns where the trees are scarce and the reeds are raggedy, I was able to glimpse the Ecorse Creek and I saw vapors coming from the water. Wow – what incredibly wacky weather for mid-September!
Indeed, the weather has been weird since the Spring if you think about it. We had that one really hot week in mid-July and then a few scorching days last week and it looks like the temps will crank up at the tail end of this week; hopefully that will be Summer’s swan song. In the meantime, there already are yellowish, curled-up leaves littering the Park paths and every so often there are dabs of gold standing tall amongst the still-green leaves of wild rhubarb – yes, the goldenrods are still thriving as are many bright yellow wild daisies. I’ve even seen some yellow dandelions dotting the grass. What gives with that … aren’t they supposed to dry up and go to seed and fly away months ago?
When I saw those yellow wild daisies it dawned on me that something else was amiss this Summer. Where are the sunflowers? Did our lack of sunshine and warm weather prohibit the growth of those gangly but grandiose flowers in so many backyards? Perhaps the cool temps stunted the growth of all the sunflowers and instead of reaching beanstalk proportion, they are merely languishing in gardens masquerading as daisies. By late August the birds and squirrels from their high perches would be scanning the sunflowers in anticipation of the finished product and treats to be disbursed to all. I bought packets of Russian Mammoth Sunflower seeds several years ago. I planted some seeds in pots and put the rest in the ground. It was the first time for me trying to grow these massive beauties. Finally, one sprout came up and I protected it under a large pickle jar until it was sturdy enough to be tied to a stick for support. Gradually, that one sunflower grew to rooftop height, and then I waited patiently for the flower head to ripen and become laden with seeds. My goal was to put the flower head “pan” of seeds in the yard for the cardinals to feast on. All Summer I had a vision of offering the sunflower head to my feathered friends as they queued up to nibble the seeds, then politely stepped aside to allow their brethren to partake in the goodies. Well, only in the Birds and Blooms magazine does that scenario transpire. One morning I went out to water, and the flower head had collapsed and broken several of my Coneflowers when it crashed to the ground. I flipped over the flower head and put it on a stepping stone in the backyard where I could watch the feast transpire from my binoculars as I stood behind a back window curtain. Not a single cardinal appeared, but the squirrels gorged themselves silly, that is, until I went out and loaded the birdfeeders and they aimed their sights there instead. The flower head eventually started to rot and attracted bugs so it was pitched into the garbage while the squirrels and a few birds looked on. So much for good intentions.