Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dog days doldrums #phenology

Humid air is collecting in clouds, trying to rise into thunderheads. Dew points in the mid-60's steam the country-side. An occasional flock of Canada geese has been noted feeding in local grass fields. Molt must be over, flight feathers replaced. This year's goslings now practicing training flights. Although the long flights are months distant, travel preparations are underway, flight muscles being developed. In the woods, whitetail bucks are growing this year's antlers.

August, fully feathered Canada geese
August, fully feathered Canada geese
Photo by J. Harrington

Hummingbirds are still showing up at our feeder, sometimes two at a time. I haven't been close enough to see if they're a male/female pair, or an adult plus a young'un, but I doubt if I could tell in the latter case. We never did see any scarlet tanagers this year although the indigo bunting sighting almost compensated for that.

August, whitetail buck in velvet
August, whitetail buck in velvet
Photo by J. Harrington

I'm back to wondering if the chipmunks in the grass and under the front stoop include any I've already translocated this year. It occurs to me that the odds of that can be reduced if I release futre captures on the far bank of the local river. The addition of a water hazard to a trip of two or three miles from capture to release should minimize repeat offenses by the same offenders. If that had occurred to me a couple of years ago, I'd begin to think I had come to know the place where I live.

The End of Summer


By Rachel Hadas


Sweet smell of phlox drifting across the lawn—
an early warning of the end of summer.
August is fading fast, and by September
the little purple flowers will all be gone.

Season, project, and vacation done.
One more year in everybody’s life.
Add a notch to the old hunting knife
Time keeps testing with a horny thumb.

Over the summer months hung an unspoken
aura of urgency. In late July
galactic pulsings filled the midnight sky
like silent screaming, so that, strangely woken,

we looked at one another in the dark,
then at the milky magical debris
arcing across, dwarfing our meek mortality.
There were two ways to live: get on with work,

redeem the time, ignore the imminence
of cataclysm; or else take it slow,
be as tranquil as the neighbors’ cow
we love to tickle through the barbed wire fence
(she paces through her days in massive innocence,
or, seeing green pastures, we imagine so).

In fact, not being cows, we have no choice.
Summer or winter, country, city, we
are prisoners from the start and automatically,
hemmed in, harangued by the one clamorous voice.

Not light but language shocks us out of sleep
ideas of doom transformed to meteors
we translate back to portents of the wars
looming above the nervous watch we keep.



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