The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Waiting for Shooting Stars


By midsummer, the birds’ cheerful singing had subsided, as all their time was now taken by parental care. Only occasionally, some individual “singers” could be heard, but it usually happens if they want to warn “outsiders” that the territory is occupied.

In July, the time of exuberant blooming came to the meadows with their variety of herbs. The polygonum and the bellflower, filipendulas and geraniums spread across the meadows as a motley carpet. The blooming herbs filled the air with subtle floral fragrance. Walking along the path on the Kalinov Medow, among the islands of blooming herbs, one could notice how their aromas changed as one walked by. This summer’s frequent rains made the air very humid, and as a result the floral aromas became much stronger. And as soon as the sun comes out, the grass dries off immediately and, together with the rich fragrance, a steady buzz spreads above the meadow. Thousands, millions of bees and other insects hasten to stuff themselves full with nectar and to pollinate their “providers.” PHOTOS >>> 

The time of meadow blooming is the best time for haymaking. In old days, work in the meadow would go on from dawn to late evening. When you walk in the meadows, it can easily seem to you that you are about to hear the ringing of a scythe or a slow conversation of the mowers. From the Large Glade, the mowers would go out to the Prudishche meadow and then farther on to the vast expanse of the Kaliniv meadow. The sun would rise, the dew would be gone, and there came the “women’s time.” While the men, already tired, were resting, women took up the work, with rakes and pitchforks. As the hay begins to dry out, it’s necessary to rake it up; then it dries evenly and preserves its fragrance for a long time. The drying grass under the scorching sunshine produces such a strong aroma that even the wind cannot take it away, and it fills the whole area.

But it‘s not rains that we‘ll remember July for, but the true days of summer filled from dawn to dusk with birds‘ bustle, blooming meadows and the rich fragrance of the fresh hay.

Soon the tension of the haymaking time subsides. The green of grass and foliage, previously an emerald color, acquires a kind of dusty shade after the heat of July, and August begins. On the calendar, it’s still summer in full swing, but the first signs of the coming autumn can already be seen in nature. By the middle of the month, everything is still green and there are still flowers, especially in the after-grass on forest glades, but along the river the leaves on bird cherry trees are already “burning” with autumn colors. Bird cherry is among the first to change its green summer “coat” for an autumn one. And it will lose it sooner than others, too. In September, when the forest is only getting ready for the golden autumn, bird cherry trees will already lose their leaves and stand bare among snowball trees.  

In mid August, yellow leaves began appearing on birches, too, at first just occasional ones, but in the last third of the month there were already golden “streaks“ on some of the birch trees.

Beginning in early August, it became strangely quiet all of a sudden. At first it seemed surprising, but then you remember that swifts have already left for the south till the next summer. The bird “choir” has quieted down, but the meadows haven’t grown silent. A soon as the dew disappears, they are filled with grasshoppers’ chirping. Now louder, now softer, their concert will last till the evening dew. Then the dusk will fall, and here and there, traces of meteors will appear in the dark sky; August is the month of shooting stars.

Andrei Deev

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