Fall has arrived here in my “neck of the woods”. Despite the last couple of days’ pleasantly warm temperatures and sunny skies, the appearance of summer is belied by the thick carpet of leaves, pine needles, and cones that that now blankets the grass out front. Fall cannot be denied.
And yet, as I open the windows in the house to let in the breeze and I hear the birds singing, it’s easy to forget – if for but a moment – that it really shouldn’t be this warm here right now. That the stink bugs and flies should be gone, and that frost on the grass shouldn’t be a surprise.
Even our flock of molting chickens seem pleased with the upturn in temperatures, laying more eggs. Who’s going to complain about that?
Many of the wild birds, whose presence we enjoyed all summer, have migrated. Just the doves, some finches, nuthatches, titmice, a few blackbirds (cowbirds, perhaps), a few species of woodpeckers, and the ever-present blue jays still visit the feeders. The smaller woodpeckers seem to prefer the suet that we’ve added to the complement of tube feeders. It’s been several weeks since I’ve seen a hummingbird, but we still put a feeder out with fresh nectar, just in case a migrating straggler comes by.
The poplar tree, whence the heart-shaped leaf came, is nearly naked after the weeken’s winds stripped its leaves. I will miss its broad, green leaves and the unusual, spiky flowers that appear in the spring. Finding a little “gift” of this sort seems as though the tree is telling me that despite how it may appear that the transformation occurring now is negative, it’s really not; instead, it’s a reminder of the transitional nature of life, that it’s part of a natural (and necessary) cycle, and we’re moving into a time of quiet strength-gathering. And what may seem “dead” during winter’s austerity is merely dormant, just waiting for the signal to burst forth in all its fresh, vigorous brilliance.
I liked the juxtaposition of the seeds and the fallen leaf in the haiku because it seemed to represent the mixed feelings that arise (at least in me) at this time of year. It feels like the year – and Nature – is winding down, divesting of its earlier finery, and preparing for the solemnity of winter. We can mourn the departure of summer’s visitors – the jeweled hummingbirds, the ethereally gorgeous butterflies – and still celebrate the gifts of this season, as well as each of the others. May you discover the joys of this season, wherever you are.