Can it be? Awakening on a late August morning, she realizes that the air outside her bedroom window is cooler than it has been in some long time. The early light filtering through the wooden shutters is paler, has a different character, cast and slant. Days seem much shorter now than they were only a few weeks ago, and there is simply no question about it—summer is packing its bags, and autumn is on the way.
The higher branches of elderly maples on the upper ridges of the Two Hundred Acre Wood are tipped here and there with scarlet. Virginia creepers have already turned a deep pleasing crimson, and sumac leaves along the road are acquiring a rosy cast. As Himself, Spencer and I potter along together on morning walks, the first acorns, nuts, cones and falling leaves drift languidly into our path like little boats. There is a whiff of spice in the air from wild woodland organics going to seed.
On woodland potterings, there is an earthy abundance of color on which to feast our eyes. Stands of milkweed along our old rail fences are going vivid rust and burgundy, neighboring roadside foliage providing contrasts in gold, silver and dusty gray. Rural scenes are fringed in ochery amber and saffron as far as the eye can see, and between August thunder storms, the rolling vistas are set off gloriously by fluffy clouds and brilliant blue skies.
Morning and evening skies are filled with proclaiming geese traveling between cornfields and the river, and wild turkey clans gabble in nearby woodland clearings as they forage for acorns, fallen apples and hickory nuts on the forest floor. Approach their banquet place, and the birds scatter in all directions, chattering like squirrels and protesting our thoughtless interruption.
Starlings and swallows are congregating on telephone lines in long dancing skeins. As we tried (and failed) to count them a few days ago, a solitary heron flew over our heads and landed silently in a nearby pond. In only a few weeks, they (and the butterflies) will have departed for warmer climes and a more reliable food supply. Summer is a fleeting thing this far north, and Bob Dylan had it right—the times, they are a-changin.