September has flown by it seems. These are the last weeks of summer and the introduction to fall. There is the scare of frost that pushes one to fling bed sheets over potted annuals and tender basil and tomato plants because we cannot bear to see their darkened, wilted leaves just yet. Later, we resign ourselves to its inevitability–but that is an October state of mind. We want to hang on to the warmth and jubilant growth and production of summer–even as we see the reverse process going on right before our eyes–the cooling, turning, falling, and wilting.
Bees still feed on sedum flowers, though not with the busy energy of playing children. They are placid and slow in the coolness.
A Buck moth–so named because it emerges during the rutting season of whitetail bucks–clings to the prairie grass at St. John’s Arboretum. It looks as if it wears a warm fur coat to get it through its short, egg-laying Autumn life.
One afternoon as I walked out our driveway, I looked up at the top of a dead spruce tree. Birds perched like Christmas ornaments on its branches. Most of them flew away before I got a good look at them with the camera, but I discovered they were Cedar waxwings.
Another visitor to the dead spruce was a Northern flicker, stout of body and bill with the red nape of its Woodpecker family. It’s one of the only woodpeckers to feed on the ground and to migrate from its northern areas.
In September we saw some of our frequent yard visitors mature into young adulthood. The small, spotted, twin fawns now looked muscular with thick coats, and I had a feeling of sadness to think of them in the sight of a gun instead of my camera.
The young turkeys, once scurrying balls of feathers, were indistinguishable from the adult females who wrangled them around all summer. Their feathers shone in the sunlight with the diverse markings and rich copper, brown, and bronze colors of the adult bird.
I carried out an amphibian rescue from the deep egress window well on the northeast side of our house after our Black lab would run to it and peer over the edge at the critters who had inadvertently fallen into the abyss. Three Tiger salamanders, two Leopard frogs and a Partridge in a…..no, I mean a chubby, bumpy, brown toad.
(This one is so shimmery and pretty!)
And finally, I wanted to show you my favorite fern–Northern Maidenhair–with a whorl of lighter green fronds floating on dark, wiry stems. They grow along the shady narrow road that climbs the bluff from the bank of the Mississippi River at Cassville, Wisconsin to the cemetery where Chris’ folks are buried. That’s the first place I remember seeing them. These grew where the woods and the wetlands merged at St. John’s Arboretum. My attempt to establish them at our place has met with disappointment, as our hilltop sandy soil drained away the moisture they require. But I’m not giving up yet–Chris has a project going that may be the solution to my problem….
It is human nature to not want to let go of the things in life we love or that give us pleasure. Summer is a pleasurable time in Minnesota, a time we do not take for granted. It is short and sweet, and we want to hold on to that sweetness. But the night temperatures fall into the thirties, the colorful, fallen leaves cover the green grass, the produce from the garden is mostly all harvested, and the denial of what’s coming is getting pried away by reality. We get out our warmer clothes that have been put aside, not even put away, and we start to make our mental list of things that need to be done before winter. We rescue what we can, and with loving appreciation we let go and give the other up to God. We move on to our October state of mind.