Hydrangeas and Hay Rows

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Clear, dry and hot, yesterday was a day to save summer.  I took down all the old dried flowers I’d hung on the wrought iron rack in the kitchen, and pitched them on the compost.  The now brown bouquet of hydrangea that stood all winter on the mantel went on the compost heap also.  I wiped up the dust that had accumulated behind the hanging flowers, and on the blue vase my friend Andi made that had held last year’s bouquet.  Brown out, time to bring blush pink in.

Like green beans and tomatoes this summer, my pee wee (panicle) hydrangea tree has produced in abundance.  Many years the blossoms don’t take on their rose blush until some of the flower petals have already turned brown.  Not this year.  The tree is hanging ripe with pink blossoms like a fruit tree.  Drying the blossoms is simple enough that it’s a garden task I get done every year.  Snip the stems at whatever length I want, put them in a vase, or hang them from a rack, and the blossoms dry in whatever shade of cream and pink they held when cut.  Eventually the flowers turn brown, but it takes until the next summer, when the world is full of color again, before I notice that the blush has faded into a uniform drabness.   Still, the conical shape of the flowers holds and makes a bouquet.

As I went out yesterday to pick the last bouquet, I heard a familiar clatter and chug of machinery from the field across the street.  Looking up, I couldn’t see the baler, but the mounded rows of cut hay lay across the field in parallel strips, curving with the slopes of the field, a swirl of dried grasses ready to be packed into blocks.  More summer being saved, to feed horses or cows over the winter.  It was getting late in the day, but the sun was still strong and hot, soaking into blossoms and grass, dried by the clear wind and ready to be harvested for seasons to come.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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