Autumnal Ruminations

Native dogwood color from a previous season.

Changing light has been signaling its coming for the last month. Even as oppressive tropical air made deep breaths a challenge, the slant of light through the trees, the later-rising sun and its earlier sunsets promised it was coming.

The trees couldn’t wait for it. Without rain for over two months, many surrendered without coloring. Brown, dried leaves covered brown plants below as dust devils whirled in heat even the cicadas couldn’t handle any more.

The meadow two months ago before the drought took hold.

Unmoving, shallow water in the creek was stagnant and bathwater warm. Every day, black and turkey vultures gathered on dead sycamores for baths, taking turns to splash, then dry off in searing sun on a branch, wide wings spread to expose every feather.

I had never seen a great blue heron pant, but wildlife cameras by the creek caught one several times, beak open, throat convulsing, tongue slightly extended. A lone female coyote prowled during nights of heavy air, constantly sniffing. Only one doe managed to rear a fawn successfully this year, judging by the cameras. All of them had been heavily pregnant. Madame Coyote’s clan likely ate well this summer.

In the last two weeks, two tall bucks have been photographed pacing both sides of the creek, sniffing the heavy air for does, their eight-point antlers evident on moonlit nights as their reflections in the creek kept pace. One night, a lone beaver swimming by slapped the water hard when it saw the bucks, sending them crashing through the forest.

Fans of the hilltop meadow.

Yesterday and today, plentiful rain has arrived. Song birds are livelier than they’ve been in weeks. I can feel all the plants exhaling a long sigh of relief. My hands grow itchy with the urge to plant a few new wildflower and grass species in the growing meadow on the hill that has become a favorite hangout of seed-eaters, from finches to wild turkeys.

Rain on the roof lulls me into sleepiness. Tonight I will dream of Autumn’s arrival. I will revel beneath a blanket for the first time in months as chilly air following the rain arrives and settles over the landscape. The still-nearly-full moon will gleam through departing clouds. Barred owls will celebrate, their calls echoing across the floodplain.

Never have I been more grateful for the turning of the seasonal wheel. May rains wash us clean, may crisp air reawaken our hearts, may longer nights bring us dreams of better days for all of Earth’s inhabitants.

Praying for better days for us all.

  1. #1 by Diane on September 22, 2021 - 4:29 pm

    Thank you for these posts. I have so enjoyed them. Even though I’m a summer girl, it is nice when autumn comes and the air becomes crisp.

    A rain storm just left. About the third today and more to come tonight. Then tomorrow will be a clear cool day – the first day of autumn.

    Take care! Diane

    Sent from my iPhone


    • #2 by piedmontgardener on September 22, 2021 - 6:02 pm

      Hi, Diane. Thanks for stopping by. We’ve had two inches of glorious rain so far at my house. Now comes the wonderful autumn air. Enjoy!

  2. #3 by James on September 22, 2021 - 9:40 pm

    Your writings always paint such a vivid picture. the photographs then just enhance to absolute new levels. I have to confess that I am a spring and summer guy and as such start mourning the loss of daylight by the end of July. By Christmas, the only thing preventing depression is the seed catalogs and the knowledge that the days will soon begin to lengthen. I love the meadow and turkey scenes

    • #4 by piedmontgardener on September 23, 2021 - 8:12 am

      Seed catalogs do make winter easier to endure, I agree. Although for me, about the time they arrive, my fingers are itching for dirt again, so I tend to order more seeds than are practical for me to actually grow. Fortunately, I’ve got plenty of friends who are generally happy to adopt the plants that result from my excess enthusiasm. Thanks again for your kind words. I confess I have grown quite fond of our resident wild turkeys and always look for them when we download the wildlife camera cards.

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