The Closing Down Of Summer

Fall’s on the way. You can feel it in the air. You can see it in the colour of the sunlight. Although today is a warm day (24° C), there’s that something in the breeze, you can smell it, hinting at the change of season.

At The Public Gardens

Yesterday at the Public Gardens wild bees were busy harvesting nectar and pollen – there were some hive bees foraging, too. It was interesting watching the wild bees push the hive bees out of the way – no room for interlopers.

I’ve written about the closing down of summer before.

In the opening pages of Alastair MacLeod’s short story: The Closing Down Of Summer (in the collection: As Birds Bring Forth The Sun) he begins:

It is August now, towards the end, and the weather can no longer be trusted. All summer it has been very hot. So hot that the gardens have died and the hay has not grown and the surface wells have tried to trickles and the trout that inhabit them and the inland lakes are soft and sluggish and gasping for live. …

At the end of July we said to ourselves and to each other, “The August gale will come and shatter all of this.” The August gale is the traditional storm that comes each August, the forerunner of the hurricanes that will sweep up from the Caribbean and beat and lash this coast in the months of autumn. The August gale with its shrieking winds and crashing muddied waves has generally signalled the unofficial end of summer and it may come in August’s very early days. But this year, as yet, it has not come and there are only a few days left. Still we know that the weather cannot last much longer and in another week … the pace of life will change. 

That’s what it feels like today and has felt like for the past week – there has been no August gale, just mostly sunny days – no rain which we desperately need and begin to want. But the air has changed, the colour has begun changing. The Queen Anne’s Lace is ending, the Goldenrod droops, I’ve seen Chicory in a few spots already. The plants know the season is changing.

The folks in the building where I live have been meeting outdoors in a green spot beside our garage driveway – we bring our chairs and knit, or box lunches and share a meal. We can likely do that for September and with jackets maybe October but after that outdoor gatherings won’t be possible.

We’ve all enjoyed the laughter and camaraderie these outdoor gatherings have given us. We will need to find ways to continue congregating – with masks, social distancing, and cleaning the indoor spaces before we leave. We will find a way to carry on – we have to. We’re now accepting the Covid-19 rituals to which we’ve become accustomed will be necessary for the foreseeable future, for a year? maybe longer?

This closing down of summer, now in the air, signals changes we will have to invent in order to sustain our community. We’ll find a way to carry on. As will everyone else.

Skyline #1 – Piecing Completed

The piecing of the quilt top is finished. I’m happy with the colour flow.

Skylines #1 – Piecing Complete

Now to assemble the back, set up the quilt sandwich, and quilt it.

That’s it for today. Gotta catch a bit of the lovely weather – you can feel a hint of fall in the air – it’s been there for over a week now. It won’t be long before fall will begin showing itself.

Skyline #1

On July 9, I mentioned the Hoffman’s “Skyline” panel I’d bought – I was thinking about how I might play again with “Let The Trumpet’s Sound” drunkard’s path motif using this multi-coloured fabric.

Hoffman Skylines – Multi

I finally got going on on Aug 10, when I cut my 1m wide panel into 10 different 21″ squares. Then I walked around the fabric for another week!

I took a deep breath on Aug 17 and cut the 21″ blocks into smaller sizes:

  • 3 x 16.6″ – a dark, a medium, a light
  • 14 x 8.5″
  • 36 x 4.5″ and
  • 120 x 2.5″ blocks.

I also cut 32 x  2.5″ blocks from several complementary shades of “Grunge” fabric from my fat quarter stash. I more or less sorted everything by colour, I stitched many of the 2.5″ blocks into 4-patch elements, then I began laying out blocks on my cutting table:

Skylines #1 – First Corner

The large pale block, two 8.5″ blocks, then filled in with a combination of 4-patch and 4.5″ blocks….

Skylines #1 – Medium Tones

Next, I grouped more blocks into medium-toned groupings until I had no more space available on my cutting table, at which point I very carefully moved everything to the floor.

Skylines #1 – Incomplete Layout

I laid out all the blocks I had cut – I still needed the equivalent of approximately 15 x 4.5″ spaces – the few remaining scraps I had left of the “Skylines” were too small so I turned again to my collection of “Grunge” fat quarters, selected a dozen I thought would coordinate well with my layout.

As I was filling in spaces, I moved blocks around until I had a more coordinated colour flow:

Skylines #1 – Completed Layout

Now I had a clear alignment of lights, darks, and medium colours – with a grouping of peach tones in the lower left corner.

Looking at the layout with a friend that evening, the small pale mauve “Grunge” blocks were stand-outs – they had to go; I replaced them with other colours which blended better. And then I began assembling the quilt top into 12 x 16.5″ blocks:

Skylines #1 – Partially Assembled

The top row, the second row, and the bottom row are now sewn together. The layout in the middle two rows used a couple of the 8.5″ blocks staggered across two rows – hence the jog in the second row. The third row is laid out on my cutting board ready to be assembled:

Skylines #1 – Third Row Ready to Assemble

That’s this morning’s work. Once I have all four rows done I’ll put them together. Leaving them separate at this point lets me lay them out, check for colour flow, and replace any “eye-sore” spots more easily – taking apart the smaller strips is much less complicated then replacing blocks in the middle of a large panel!

Oh, and I picked up another metre of the “Skylines” fabric – bringing my total, now, to four panels. I’ve decided to insert an 8″ – 10″ strip in the back of each of the “Skylines” quilts. Did I say I have plans for doing THREE quilts using this fabric? I intend to call the series “Skylines Triptych.”