The talk this week was mostly about how extra nice the weather has been. It's hard to beat sunshiny, blue skies with temperatures around 75-80 degrees. The extra bonus was a beautiful full moon and a very good look at Jupiter. I like to take such an opportunity to get the old spotting scope into positions. With the scope, I can focus in on craters and mountains on the moon and with luck, I can see four small moons that orbit Jupiter. Being able to view these celestial objects closer always reminds me that they are more than just glowing spheres; they are other real places in the universe. We are not alone.
Summer isn't officially over until the 22nd of September, but the signs of autumn's arrival are undeniable. Each passing day brings a little dash of color to the landscape, in spite of the warm weather. At least once a month I like to take a walk up through the woods at the top of the ridge. I get a longing to see the big maple, oak and ash trees that have missed the logger's saw. Sometimes it's nice to just sit under a mighty, tall oak and look up as the morning light comes through the leaves. There's something melancholy about a tree that was here long before me and will still be here long after I'm gone. I can only imagine what a 2 or 300 year old tree has seen in its lifetime.
It's a little early to see many fall mushrooms, but there are a few. A large shelf mushroom has been growing all summer on the trunk of a dead tree. I did pick a few small, white, fleshy oyster mushrooms that were easy to reach on a Box elder branch. Often one good find leads to another, and under the tree, on a moss-covered rock, I found a pretty Blue jay feather. It looked like someone had placed it there at my feet so that I would be sure to see it.
In a small sunny spot in the woods, the meandering Virginia creeper spreads vines with colorful red leaves. When the leaves are green, they blend in with all the other green around. In the fall, when the Virginia creeper's leaves turn color, the path the vines have taken is no longer a secret. Most viny plants are camouflaged by green in summer and very colorful in the early fall. Another good example comes from the wild grape vines with their bright yellow leaves. Now, it's easy to see how far up a tree they have grown.
It's been over a week since I've seen a swallow in the yard or meadow. They have already decided to move further south. The robins and bluebirds, too, have left, except for a few migrants that stop here for the day. There are still a few Hummingbirds the visit the flower gardens, along with a fair number of butterflies.
At the edge of the woods, the pretty, small, blue Wood asters are starting to bloom. They are the smaller cousins of the larger New England asters that are also starting to flower in the meadow. The tall heads of the Indian grass are now showing tiny, delicate yellow flowers. This slow-growing native grass takes all summer to finally bloom in September. Hopefully, there is still time to make some seed before the frost comes.
Some would say that autumn shows the slow death of summer in a colorful display of the changing seasons. In truth, there isn't any death at all—just another phase of the never-ending cycle of life. The grass and leaves will fade and nourish the soil, and the seeds will sow the promise of the future. Life goes on, one season at a time, one moment at a time.
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