I can feel it. Can you? The strong push of our first serious cold front arrives later today, abruptly escorting summer out the door, making room for the arrival of the autumnal equinox at 9:03 EDT this evening. It is time to synchronize our systems to this turning of the seasonal wheel.
The natural world has been readying itself for the last month. Leaves have been browning and dropping prematurely, calling it quits early, thanks to a two-month drought. It is impossible to walk anywhere in my yard without risking web face. Mama spiders of all kinds have spread their traps wide to catch as much prey as quickly as possible, fuel for the laying of their egg sacs. Most of the American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) and spicebush (Lindera benzoin) berries are gone, devoured by birds fattening up ahead of migratory travels. American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) fruits still linger, at least until traveling troupes of American Robins spot them.
Late-season wildflowers bloom on valiantly despite the drought. Asters abound as do tickseeds, various sunflower family bloomers, and Spotted Beebalm (Monarda punctata) in the wildflower meadows on my hilltop. Floodplain bloomers continue with enthusiasm. That soil is still moist, thanks to the work of beavers. Here, Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) and abundant Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) mingle with Crown-beards (Verbesina helianthoides) and Late-flowering Thoroughwort (Eupatorium serotinum). River oats seeds dangle in breezes. Swamp Milkweed seeds float on silken parachutes, drifting to unknown destinations.
Great Blue Herons still stalk shallow creek water for fish or frog meals, while a Belted Kingfisher flies overhead, uttering its rattling territorial call. My wildlife cameras tell me the white-tailed deer are gearing up for mating season. Groups of heavy-antlered bucks strut through the dark, sometimes stopping to tussle with each other, antlers locked. A mama raccoon strolls by with two youngsters almost her size following. A solitary opossum waddles past, stopping briefly to dig at something it smells in moist soil. A coyote patrols the dark, seeking unwary victims. All the creatures know it is time to fatten up, secure a winter stronghold, readying themselves for summer’s unwinding into colder seasons.
As I walked my yard this morning, I took a lesson from surrounding flora and fauna. I slowed my pace. I stopped often to savor the beauty of late bloomers, give thanks for abundant walnuts and pecans dropping from laden trees, and the still-ripening sweet Italian peppers in my vegetable garden. Syncing with the autumn season feels good. I am done with summer, ready for a slower time, a fresh start, a dance with gold and crimson fallen leaves in crisp air.
Welcome, Autumn! I am ready for your arrival, grateful for the constancy of the turning of the seasonal wheel, comforted in knowing that winter’s meditative slumber will soon be upon us.
#1 by scaudell on September 22, 2022 - 6:53 pm
Thank for expressing in such a lovely way what we are all feeling. Now
if we’d only get some rain! I had about 30 seconds of rain this
evening.If I hadn’t looked out on the deck just after it happened, I’d
never have known.
#2 by piedmontgardener on September 22, 2022 - 7:30 pm
I’m glad you enjoyed my post, Sharyn. We got 0.16 of an inch — the most we’ve seen in many very long, dry weeks.
#3 by scaudell on September 22, 2022 - 7:05 pm
I forgot to say that the crownbeard by the creek is simply gorgeous. I
started one from seed but managed to plant it out just before a major
deluge in July. It didn’t make it. I’m sure it would have if it had
already been established The trials and errors of a native plant gardener!
#4 by piedmontgardener on September 22, 2022 - 7:32 pm
Crownbeard is a great wildflower for wetlands. Mine was there when we moved in 33 years ago, and it continues to spread on its own. If you get a chance, you should try again.
#5 by Julie Higgie on September 22, 2022 - 7:54 pm
Your column is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and love of nature.
#6 by piedmontgardener on September 22, 2022 - 7:57 pm
Hello, Julie! It is nice to hear from you. I’m glad you enjoyed my post, and I hope you and yours are doing well. Thanks for your comment.