In the dim beginning of first light, our neighborhood’s crow family of 7 begin crying like Apache raiders — raucous, insistent, circling our big trees. Maybe they know everything else is in retreat and so are proclaiming their dominion.
The swallows left sometime in the third week of August. One evening two dozen slung themselves side by side on the wire over the horse pasture. The next night, gone. The catbirds are down to one or two holdouts. A host of flickers are showing up, looping between tree lines. The warblers have begun their migration; they suddenly reveal their twitchy selves in deep cover, yellow as ripe pears. Journeying toward Mexico, the Monarchs are here, in greater numbers this year than the last few.
At dawn and dusk the field seems inert, almost inanimate. What is left is hiding. Pokeberry leaves are turning scarlet and their berries, poisonous to us, burst alizarin crimson between the fingers and sustain all the seed eaters who come to their blue color and strip the stalks dry. Early, a mist stretches from tree line to tree line. Grass spider webs bloom in all directions, hundreds of them.
Afternoons are hot — the sun beats on my back and neck. Before the rain on the 10th, the drought was turning the soil into dust. An autumn blue has come back to the sky which carries a low flush of light over this space even when the clouds are a uniform flat, steel gray. Nothing aloft except dragonflies, double winged, thirty feet up and swinging in elaborate geometries. In the middle of the field that stillness again, and then mourning doves, deep under cover blow out just ahead of me, and I feel sorry I disturbed them. The field is all green. It should be filled with Goldenrod, among the last to flower and thus also filled with every kind of bee and other pollinator. All these acres need to be cut, culled and replanted.
On a dusk walk I speak in whispers to the dogs. We come up the path silently. They cannot see over the waist high grass though their noses are up, their bodies quivering with the infusion of scent. Then, two large bucks, one whose rack stretches out like a spiky, ornate headdress. The bigger of the two stops chewing, focuses on me, sniffs, turns and both leap, rising and falling in the green swells like Maine dories. Leashed and reminded to hold, both dogs whine with pent-up desire. They want to chase. Like every other living thing right now, they want to set off in a rush.
We wait. They go quiet. One jay calls from deep in the woods. Everything is in shadow. The sky has turned violet. A night breeze has picked up. It has a suspicion of chill to it, a glancing cut of the cold to follow.