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Blue Ridge Mountain Views #8: In the Gloaming, In the Gloaming

“In the Gloaming, In the Gloaming”


When the sun has drifted below the far mountain and the wind has died down and the light is pearly and there’s just a hint of evening dew beginning to gather in the air, I like to go outside with no other purpose than to stroll around my “1/3 of an acre more or less,” as the old deed reads.

I’m “in the gloaming, in the gloaming” as my grandmother used to sing. (“In the Gloaming”, an 1877 song composed by Annie Fortescue Harrison with lyrics taken from a poem by Meta Orred. Wikipedia.) It is a morbid song, as many of my Victorian grandmother’s were.

I used to think the gloaming was a place in the landscape, like a meadow, but I lately learned that “the gloaming” was, according to the Oxford Dictionaries:

(the gloaming) literary

Twilight; dusk.


Old English glōmung, from glōm ‘twilight’, of Germanic origin; related to glow.


And at this time of day, the light does glow.


This evening, wandering aimlessly, I greet the roses and offer encouraging words for bloom, pinch off a yellowed leaf or two from the Joe Pye Weed and prop up the floppy little red flowers of the tickweed with a branchy twig snapped from the mock orange, which needs a serious cutting back.

Granny’s huge old tricolor Rose of Sharon. Photo by Diane Blanks.
Granny’s huge old tricolor Rose of Sharon. Photo by Diane Blanks.

I review the cheerful nosegays of yellow and orange marigolds, bought earlier in the summer by the six-pack from what a friend calls the “dead plant rack” at the local nursery. A couple of the cells had died off completely when I bought them, but the rest, at $1 a six-pack, were a definite bargain, all bushed out now and covered with multiple blooms.

Nearby, late but coming on, I find that a vine of Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory has fought its way up and out of a welter of rampant black-eyed Susans and is now climbing the bird feeder pole. It’s the plant whose seed started the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, and I will be sure and save any seeds, as they will come back true to form next year.

In the front yard, the little hydrangea’s pointed white flowers glow, illuminating their dark corner. Earlier in the day, the yard was working alive with chipmunks, squirrels, goldfinches and robins, along with the baby rabbit nibbling clover among the grass, but now I have it to myself.

In the still air, the perfume from the old-timey purple phlox is heady and deep. The grapevine, pruned back hard earlier in the year, has almost regained its length in new growth and hangs down to the ground over the old arbor. Tucked away beneath the curtain of leaves, multiple bunches of pink grapes have formed, tho they have yet to turn color. So my crop is making, and soon the smell of ripening grapes will add their fragrance to the air. In past years, I just let the deer and other varmints enjoy them, but as I sprayed the grapevines with deer repellant this year, I will be compelled to use the grapes, so as not to be needlessly stingy. So this may be the year I try making grape juice or, failing that, grape jelly. It’s been a while.


I was walking through the front yard yesterday, enjoying the sun, when I came upon the Yearly Snake, nearly stepping on his foot-long length, as a matter of fact. I scurried up the front steps and then went gingerly halfway back down. In the interest of science, and for my own enlightenment, I peered at his little head, trying to determine if it was arrowhead-shaped (poisonous) or not. He didn’t appreciate the attention, drawing up into a spring so he could hightail it out of there if need be. We looked at each other, me warily, he scenting the air with his forked tongue and giving me a cold, jaundiced eye. His head seemed, after a bit of studying, to be safely oval, so I went on my way, and he went on his.


About two weeks ago, the first of the beans, potatoes and squash came in around here, and you could hear the rejoicing echoing up the hollows and off the mountaintops. It’s a long haul from Mother’s Day (traditional planting date, when the last frost is safely past) to mid-July harvest, particularly for folks who’ve been eating last year’s home-canned beans since winter. Yes, we know you can buy “fresh” beans and squash in the grocery stores year-round now, but they’re usually pricey and have nowhere near the taste of locally grown produce, even if it Is canned. From now until the first frost in the fall, we’ll feast on platefuls of beans, new potatoes boiled in their skins and stewed or fried squash, with a side of cornbread and some sliced tomatoes. And soon the corn will start coming in. Good eating.

News at eleven,