True Semptember

Sept. 12, 2018

The first week of September didn’t feel like September at all.  The air was from the south, hot and muggy; it was summery in the uncomfortable sense of the word, a reminder that we are living in the Anthropocene.

It was with a sense of relief a few mornings ago that I woke up to find cool, fresh air pouring in through the open bedroom window.  Overnight, the season had shifted from high summer to early fall, Maine style.  While not letting me off the hook in terms of my responsibilities as a human being, the change felt good.

True September’s here!
Step through damp woods, coolness, mist
into one, still mind.

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August Evening

August 28, 2018

We are late into August and the days are noticeably shorter.  The sun goes down and twilight sets in while we are eating dinner.  And our sun-downer dinners can be enjoyed outside; we’ve been warmed by a wind from the south, making things seem almost tropical. The trees are still in full leaf, the summer birds remain, and the peepers—while quiet—appear on the lit windows in the evening to catch insects.  Life is abundant in the growing dark.

Sunset before moonrise—
crickets chorus, trees exhale
air as warm as breath.

 


The moon last night was two days off the full and rose behind the pines about two hours after I took this photo.

Mid-Summer Lull

July 22, 2018

July is summer’s sweet spot, a long, slow time still graced by generous amounts of daylight, but without the sense of biological urgency—the race to germinate, grow, breed, claim territory, etc.—that comes with the approach to the solstice.  In mid-July the blackflies have long since ceased to bite, most of the summer resident birds seem to have fledged their broods, every young chipmunk (and there are lots this year!) has its den and range established, each ash, maple, or oak in the woods is quietly synthesizing with nothing raining down from their high branches.

In May and early June, when I was planting my small vegetable garden I encountered eager field bindweed shoots (Convolvulus arvensis) at every turn.  As soon as I spotted one of these pesky shoots that, left alone, would become a choking vine with toxic leaves wrapped around basil or green beans or lettuce, I would pull it out.  But more would come.

Now, in mid-summer even the bindweed has ceased to send out new shoots and its white trumpet flowers are drawing in pollinators. I know I should eradicate the bindweed, and I do plan to do that…sometime, but for now we have a truce.

Summer’s reign of peace—
plants condemned as weeds in June
now seem beautiful.

Moss Worlds

July 14, 2018

Mosses, which love water, have structural features in their leaves that allow them to channel moisture downward and inward and hold it for awhile in the densest part of their growth.  Even in the fairly dry weather we’ve been having, most of the mossy places in the yard and woods still look surprisingly green and fresh.

I wonder if humans in the long course of our coming into being as a species, did not have a few forebearers—mites, spiders, or tardigrades—that were inhabitants of the mossy biome.  There is something familiar and beckoning about the green spaces moss creates.

World we somehow know—
hidden homes in cool moss glens,
welcome shade of fern.

Canadian High

 

July 8, 2018

On the eastern side of the Canadian Rockies there is a semi-permanent high-pressure system called the Canadian High.  It’s cooled by proximity to the Arctic, and protected from Pacific moisture by the high mountains to the west. Now and again, this pressure system sees fit to travel southeast, crossing into New England on its way to the Atlantic, and bringing with it plenty of sunshine and cool, dry air.

We’d been having uncommonly hot, muggy weather lately with temperatures and humidity levels both in the nineties.  To say it was uncomfortably hot doesn’t come close to capturing it.  It was so bad that public health officials advised visits to cooling shelters for those without air conditioning.  That’s most of the human and pet population of Maine.  Things seemed even harder for the woodland animals.

When the Canadian high rolled in yesterday it was cause for general celebration.

Canadian high!
Crisp air, clear light, oxygen–
all things smile, revive.

Version 3

Summer Solstice

June 20, 2018

 

 

The summer solstice is tomorrow.  Today there are fifteen and a half hours between sunrise and sunset.  When I factor in the softer light of early dawn and post-sunset that’s over sixteen hours of daylight, a lot of radiant energy.

It seems as though every living thing is taking advantage of this time of abundant light to feed, grow, and make the next generation.

Much of this upwelling of life delights me.  I have a special fondness for the recently-appeared tiger swallowtail butterflies cutting jagged flight lines around the last of the lilacs, and also for the peonies with their absurdly lavish blooms.  Last week, when the snapping turtle made her annual climb up from the lake and saw fit to lay her clutch of eggs in the bare soil near our clothes line my heart raced with excitement.

But at this time of year, there is some life that presents discomforts and threats to us humans.  Poison ivy is poking up here, there, and everywhere.  The browntail moth caterpillar with its toxic hairs that can float through the air invisibly and cause a nasty rash in many folks, has started to show up in our area.  There are ticks, including deer ticks, which are rightly feared for carrying disease.  The incredible snapping turtle too, if provoked, has a powerful finger-devouring bite.

In the very animate world of solstice time I struggle to be alert, appreciative…and careful.

Phoebes snap mayflies
near where Turtle laid her eggs—
Summer solstice time.