Monday, August 1, 2016

It's August #phenology

This month we should have more than 400 wildflowers in bloom. The Sturgeon (full) Moon will be August 18. The local corn I've noticed is all tasseled and has emerged silk. The neighborhood deer fly population is mercifully thinner. I hope there's not another brood waiting to hatch. Weather is warm, humid, sort of sullen and thundery from time to time. I haven't yet noticed any pods on the local milkweed plants, but I haven't been looking carefully either. Monarch, swallowtail and red admiral butterflies are visiting muddy driveway puddles and the remnants of July's blooms.

Whitetail fawn and black-eye susans
Photo by J. Harrington

Whitetail fawns are coming along nicely but haven't yet shed their spots. Time for them to nibble some grasses and forms and sniff the black-eyed susans while we humans gather sumac seeds and look for ripening blackberries, but slowly, easily. It's August, Summer's winding down, and the livin' is easy. Time to just enjoy what's been given us.

Come Back to Tell Us


Dusk in August—
which means nearly
nine o’clock here, deep
in the heart of central
Jersey—and the deer
step out to graze
the backyards. They tear
each yellowy red
tulip cup, munch up
rhododendrons
and azaleas. Fifty
years of new houses
have eaten into
their woodland, leaving
only this narrow strip
of trees along the trickly
stream that zigzags
between Route 9
and Lily’s mom’s
backyard. The deer rise
from the mist, hooves
clicking on asphalt, a doe
and a buck, his antlers
like a chandelier.
Sometimes a doe and two
fawns. Or else we see
just the white flags
of their tails bobbing away
into the dark. In theory
the DNR should come
catch them, let them go
where it’s still
forest, still possible to live
as they were meant to.
But these days
there’s no money
for that. And people keep
leaving out old bread,
rice, stale cookies, or else
plant more delicious flowers.
“Mei banfa,”
my mother-in-law says:
Nothing can be done.
Seeing them in
the distance—that distance
we can’t close
without them shying
and turning and skittering
down Dickinson Lane
or bounding
over a backyard fence—
I try to imagine
they’re messengers
come back to tell us
their stories, any news
of the lost or what
comes next, though
if they could say
anything, they would
probably say, Go away.


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