The Golden Season — We are at the end of what was a glorious Summer. Yes, it was a little strange, July and August seemed reversed, with July being the hotter and wetter (records were set) month, August not so much. We happily avoided drought, fires (though we had a taste of their smoke) and serious floods.
Because we had no extended dry-spell the deciduous trees — Ash, Beech, Birch, Maple and Oak have kept all their leaves (they will usually shed some leaves if heat- and drought-stressed), which signifies the likelihood of a full, beautiful Fall ahead of us. It’s a pity how the White Ashes are suffering from the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) with all soon to perish (see www.emeraldashborer.info).
All of the usual markers are marching past, migrations of ruby-throated hummingbirds and eastern monarchs (the few we had) returning to their winter homes shortly (see www.journeynorth.org) and leaves will be beginning their first golden tinge of seasonal change. The insect chorus of seasonal cicada, several cricket species and katydids is still in full swing, their pitch pulsing subtly as the dew point wavers and the first cool nights commence.It will gradually slow until only the crickets and our memories are left (though a few crickets will migrate to my garage).
Much like human children going off to school the vast majority of new birds will have fledged already, freeing their parents to prepare for either migration or wintering over. As our green Catskills summer winds inexorably down to a spectral fall, it is hard not to notice the changes, subtle and not- so-subtle, going on in the natural world around us.
I know the seasons ahead will have their own beauty and I’ve written much about the exact nature of the changes that are upon us (though climate change has put a serious monkey wrench into the usual pattern), but for once I just wanted to expound upon the visceral love for, and deep emotions I feel, for this land — our Waghkonk — the Land of Waterfalls Under the Sacred Mountain. I love to watch the clouds prevailing across the Woodstock valley, marching over Overlook, proceeding on to my childhood home in New England, reminding me of where my roots originated and the magical place I’ve now planted them.
Our woods vibrate with life at its richest in summer and when I move through them I know that the forest is an ancient, sentient being that welcomes me back within its verdant boughs, for we are old, old friends. The forest floor itself, like the sunnier fields and meadows, teems with life — the microbial, the minute and the miniature — animal, plant, and fungi (which taxonomically is midway between them). All (like us) are engrossed in their daily struggles for survival and to promote their kind, in turn enabling the larger creatures to do the same, all enmeshed and intertwined with each other’s cycles.
Feeding them all, the open arterial lifeblood of my Earth-Mother, the sweet, yet nascently powerful Sawkill flows dancingly among the pieces of shattered bluestone and glacial cobbles, timelessly wearing all down with its unceasing flow, smoothing us all down to nature’s own common denominator — life itself, rounded, experienced, caressed, loved. The brook trout and white suckers are friends.
We are all related, joined by our love of the crystal-clear flowing liquid life-force. This is part of what summer is to me. And damselflies and dragonflies dancing. And the thick, cottony feel of humidity as I wade through water-vapor suspended in hot air. And the cacophony of the creature-chorus. I will miss this season, I always do. Maybe that’s why we appreciate it, in that crazy human “logic” where we have to have the absence of something sometimes to understand and appreciate what we had had.
Have a great, safe fall everyone.