Dawning of September
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
September dawned bright and clear this morning, with a brilliant sky and a fresh breeze that made the cottonwoods shimmer. In the garden, the tomatoes have become a tower of tangled green on their willow-pole trellises. The corn is beginning to dry; the ears have filled out and the first leaves are turning papery white. Most of the blooms in the garden have lost their initial beauty and begun to fade, but a few are just coming into their glory.
Months ago, I bought a package of Hopi Black Dye Sunflower seeds and tucked them into the wet soil at the base of other plants. We had too much going on in the garden to add another crop, but if they shared irrigated space with another plant (one that used a different root zone) I could justify squeezing them in. Unlike most sunflowers, they produce many smaller heads on one stalk, with a bloom coming out of each leaf node. The pollinators are delighted with these towers of golden glory, as am I.
The Hopi tribes have traditionally used seed hulls of from this variety to create maroon, purple, lavender, blue, or black dyes to be used on cotton, wool, or on basketry materials. As I admired the blooms this morning, I was reminded of the great effort people of the past have put into creating beauty in the midst of harsh and demanding circumstances. Even when life and survival were a matter of great effort and when daily duties were all done by hand, beauty was valued. From patterns drawn onto the dirt floors of cabins to carefully dyed and woven baskets of the native tribes, beauty has always had a place in the heart of the rugged.
These blooms are an apt reminder of how beauty and labor are entwined. We work in the garden that surrounds them, drawing the last measure of production out of our crops as we turn the corner toward fall. It is worth stopping for a moment to admire them, to recognize the value of beauty, and to welcome the dawning of September.