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The Diminuendo of Summer
Taking its cue, August stands on the stage, delivering the year’s soft soliloquy. From the canopy, the grosbeak’s songs relent to their more somber and briefer calls; Black-capped chickadees scatter into and out of the maple branches, while chipping over the pond in light staccato tones; the Douglas squirrels squeak less frequently; along side the road, salmonberry leaves are drying and falling off the bushes, lessening the rustle they make when I drive by them; the flickers flick just a little less often. August is a sudden, swift hush of the world, as if an accompanist had pressed the soft pedal on a piano.
I know this state of things can make people a little anxious: when we are forced to face the fact that summer is beginning its inevitable ending. But it’s in this heart of August’s expression that I feel at peace for the first time in the season. After the raucous and vivid expansion of June, and the overexposed sheen of July, I’m ready to look longingly at the dead grass and breathe out a sigh.
I’m ready to be amazed by a buck’s newly expanded and arching antlers; be surprised by the awkward, faint croak of a frog in the woods. I’m ready to be relieved that the fawns’ spots are fading on their taller bodies, knowing that they are on their way to adolescence. I’m not entirely ready to discover the vine maple leaves turning red, but there they go. And I’m still around to see it. And that is everything…
Una Corda The sweet hush of August hovers over the once paraded field where the grass has gone to sleep long ago seeding an unborn and different dream altogether. Adagio, adagio... And floating on the inlet, layer-cakes of containers pass by (and by), while inside a varnished room, an abandoned clarinet waits in its case locked shut. 08.15.23
“Una corda” is Italian for one string. It is the literal translation of what happens when the soft pedal is pushed on a grand piano, where the action and keyboard both shift to the right, allowing the hammers to strike one string fewer than usual, reducing the sound and resonance.
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