Saturday, September 4, 2010

Autumn Blows in Overnight

Yesterday, it was still full summer: hot and humid, the leaves hanging limp, the sun beating down as I sought out shade in the pine barrens where I was walking. But overnight, autumn arrived. When I woke, I reached for a flannel shirt and closed the windows in the breakfast room. Outside, the wind was tossing the treetops and blowing raggedy clouds across the sky. A few raindrops spattered against the glass, but then the sun came dancing back. I'd planned on a short walk in Wilton Wildlife Preserve, so I grabbed my raincoat as I headed out the door. When I reached the preserve and started down the sandy path, dark clouds loomed over the hills.

Not five minutes later, the sky had cleared to a radiant blue.

And that's how it went for my walk's duration. One moment clear blue sky, ten minutes later the wind had dragged a new crop of clouds across the sun. One minute the sandy path was spotted with big fat raindrops, ten minutes later those drops would be sparkling among the sunlit grasses. But always, the wind.

The Wilton Wildlife Preserve offers a similar habitat to the Woods Hollow dunes I explored yesterday, so I was curious to see if the plants were the same. And many are. I saw the Horsemint right away, its bleached-out forms a ghostly white in the grass.

The Sand Jointweed, too, was thriving here, but I passed it by without seeing any until this clump of multiple blooming stalks caught my eye. Then, looking around, I saw it everywhere. It's so spindly, from certain angles it just disappears against the ground.

The plant that Wilton is most famous for is Blue Lupine, which is long past its blooming time, with most of its leaves long withered. But the Wilton preserve is dedicated to maintaining the lupine's habitat, since this flower provides the major sustenance for the ever rarer Karner Blue Butterfly. So the staffers here clear the ground and plant more each year. Looks like some new little leaves are getting a head start on next spring's growing season.

Butterfly Weed is another favorite of butterflies, and this flower, too, is long past its blooming time. But nobody told this one.

That Butterfly Weed was sheltering in a field of native grasses, planted by the preserve to restore a meadow habitat. I don't know the name of this beautiful ruddy brown one, but it was certainly happy here, towering over my head.

That brown grass turned to pink as it bent with the wind.

Many people speak of feeling sad as the summer come to an end, and so did I when I was young. You'd think that I'd feel even sadder, now, now that my proverbial three-score-and-ten are drawing to a close (I'll be 69 in May). But the odd thing is, I now feel a great exhilaration as autumn arrives. Maybe it's because I love winter much more now than I did when I was young and worried about what I looked like and wouldn't be caught dead in long underwear. Or maybe it's because this past summer's heat was just so beastly I'm glad that it's gone. Could be a little of each. But I suspect it has more to do with the joy of keeping this blog. This blog sends me out to look and see, really see, what the world is made of, almost every day of every season. As I scroll back over the entries for all the seasons I've kept this blog, I'm just struck dumb with awe about all the wonders that came my way, all the beautiful parks and preserves I've had the great pleasure to visit, and all the new friends I've come to know and have adventures with. So I'm filled with anticipation for all the wonders, friends, and adventures yet to come. In every season.


Jens Zorn said...

You wrote: "But I suspect it has more to do with the joy of keeping this blog." It certainly also has to do with the deep pleasure that your readers/viewers get from following your work.

Louise said...

I'm just beginning on my journey to learn to appreciate nature, the same one you began a while ago. I'm older, too, 62, and I have found that, as I age, I appreciate all the more what I have around me.

I do think that you're right about the blogging. It makes you slow down, and notice what is around you. And, it teaches you to take joy in the little things.

catharus said...

Yes, I know as a kid, I always enjoyed the summer; but much less so as an adult now; I always look forward to the autumn with the crisp air, the sparkling blue sky and great colors (at least in the northeast), the warm days (not hot!!) and wonderful hiking weather! To me, there isn't a better time to get outdoors.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Jens, your kind words have me smiling from ear to ear. Especially coming from one as perceptive as you, your opinion is high praise indeed. Thanks.

Hi Louise, thanks for stopping by with your comment. I love knowing a fellow spirit has come along with me on my journey.

You're right about autumn, catharus. There is no lovelier season, especially after frost, when most of the biting bugs disappear.