Sunday, August 28, 2016

Summer's swan song #phenology

fallen leaves, Coffee Talk patio
fallen leaves, Coffee Talk patio
Photo by J. Harrington

Do you realize this is the last weekend of this year's meteorological Summer? Look about you. Not only have the leaves started their color change, some have already begun to fall, as demonstrated by thts morning's photo on the back patio at Coffee Talk in Taylors Falls.

leaf color change, Wild River State Park
leaf color change, Wild River State Park
Photo by J. Harrington

I doubt that anyone keeps records of such things, but this appears to be a bumper year for goldenrod.  I don't every recall seeing as much blooming as we did during our drive this morning. One of us wanted to check out some here-to-fore unexplored roads in Wild River State Park. (The St. Croix River looks to be flowing about bank full.) Many of the unplanted or "fallow" fields along Chisago County's back roads and side roads are just full of goldenrod, as are the usual spots in ditches and up hillsides along those roads.

early morning fog
early morning fog
Photo by J. Harrington

Before a trip to Taylors Falls and then to the park, but after SiSi and I took a predawn walk along our pitch black road, I sat drinking coffee and watched a fog-shrouded, lightless sky become not gray but less and less black until it finally started to brighten. By then we could see this morning's fog was so thick the goldfinches, chickadees, and nuthatches coming in to the feeder were flying by Instrument Flight Rules. They didn't seem in the least troubled by conditions.

Sightings
  • Ruby-throated hummingbirds continue to arrive at the nectar feeder yesterday and today.

Three Songs at the End of Summer


A second crop of hay lies cut   
and turned. Five gleaming crows   
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,   
and like midwives and undertakers   
possess a weird authority.

Crickets leap from the stubble,   
parting before me like the Red Sea.   
The garden sprawls and spoils.

Across the lake the campers have learned   
to water-ski. They have, or they haven’t.   
Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone   
suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”

Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,   
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.   
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod   
brighten the margins of the woods.

Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;   
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.

*

The cicada’s dry monotony breaks   
over me. The days are bright   
and free, bright and free.

Then why did I cry today   
for an hour, with my whole   
body, the way babies cry?

*

A white, indifferent morning sky,   
and a crow, hectoring from its nest   
high in the hemlock, a nest as big   
as a laundry basket....
                                    In my childhood   
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,   
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.

The damp dirt road gave off   
this same complex organic scent.

I had the new books—words, numbers,   
and operations with numbers I did not   
comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled   
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.

Spruce, inadequate, and alien   
I stood at the side of the road.   
It was the only life I had.


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