Height of Summer

Mon –

Somewhere, the fields of grain are ripe and being harvested.  A few hundred years ago, this whole area had been cleared and made into fields, but the forest has recovered its ascendency.  Of course, many of the trees are ornamental, and there are mostly exotic flowers tended carefully in gardens, even the weeds are generally invasive imports, trying to keep pace with global urbanization.  But much of it is very pretty, and the birds and various wildlife have mostly kept up.

I’ve always been more a fan of the interfaces between humans and nature rather than areas where the people have eliminated nature, or where nature is completely wild.  I am fascinated about how we interact with the world, often for the good, tragically too often for the bad.  Knowing that the past has changed so much, even in a few decades, is somehow comforting to my own sense of impermanence.  This too shall pass.  But, at least at midsummer this year, it remains very good indeed.


That guy sitting almost hidden is nominally fishing _ you can see his pole stuck in the rocks if you look closely.  In earlier spring, you might catch some flatfish.  In later summer you could get snappers (baby bluefish) or maybe even a lost striper (bass). And I guess there’s always hope for an eel.  But here in July … nah, probably not.

There used to be a red shack here, worthy of Maine, but after it was torn down, guys (almost always guys, often alone) come and sit for a while and go home with empty pails.  I think it is mostly just to get away from everyone and everything.  Like fishermen and hikers everywhere, just losing worries and spending some quality time with the horizon.


Summer seems to have just arrived, but the Ailanthus seeds are already turning red, preparing for the next season.  From solstice on, the varied greens of spring fade into a single dark hue, and the early flowers vanish to be replaced by late bloomers and, increasingly, seeds of all types.

No matter how we may want things to stand still, especially while they seem so perfect, they rush by, the days disappear into the past, and one day we look at colored leaves suddenly swirling and wonder what happened.  As I grow older, I find that as days have always been, years have become.  What happened to the world, that I wake up a stranger here in my autumn?   I can only hope that my seeds, also, physical and immaterial, are prepared for their next season and will prosper no matter what may come.

Hecksher Park is about a mile and a half away, with a shallow pond fed by streams from the hills, a source of power and recreation since the town began.  It has always had turtles (some quite large!) and of course swans, geese, and ducks, but lately it has also become home to some river otters, which are apparently recolonizing Long Island in the last few decades.  Behind me is a cute little art museum, and a bandshell where free concerts are given almost every summer evening.

Being a romantic, I like to come here sometimes and sit on the bench, watching the people jog and stroll by, pretending I am in some Parisian green space.  And, to be fair, that is not so far off, in certain ways.  In important ways, of course, where I am is not at all Paris.  But one might equally say that the park I inhabit _ filled with my memories, my selections, my observations, my summarizations  _ is not the “real” Hecksher Park at all.  It’s fun to have the time to consider such bizarre bits of useless speculation.


Even in paradise (maybe especially in paradise) it rains sometimes. An
d around here there are also seasons.  Anthropomorphically I see them as nature’s moods, when the world seems calm, or tired, or refreshed, or lively. 

Nothing much bothers me since I spent some money and bought appropriate gear for just about everything, for which my wife makes fun of me.  I have shoes for rain, and snow, and normal days.  I can dress from almost naked to eskimo bundled.  If I cannot get out any given day, I feel I have failed.  Making it into the world, and actually looking around and listening (not buried in email or recorded music or feverish planning) is one of the ways I respect and pay homage to the world around me.  From it, I receive a benediction which I treasure.

When anywhere is truly understood, there are many magical times and places and light effects.  A seacoast is favored by mist and fog, or by startling clarity, or by blinding reflection, or by diffuse colored light interactions with the water, land, and clouds.  This makes every day a different visual feast.

I’m excited by the variety, although one of my faults is I tend to become a little too affected in my moods by my projections into the weather.  A foggy day feels different _ more inward, more calm _ than one of bright sun.  I try to reach beyond that projection, and work on the beauty and meaning of everything that is offered to me.  Fortunately, what I learn, like the forms of the moments themselves, is inexhaustible.


Sunday the bicyclists often tour in groups along West Shore road.  Especially relatively early in the morning, before the full heat of the day arrives.  The same reason I am out here now.  Most of them are, it seems, too busy talking to each other to much notice the views, and certainly none can observe the plants, nor hear the birds, nor feel the breeze as I do.

Nothing wrong with bicycles, except that lately their riders have become holier than thou types who think that their few minutes a week on wheels is saving the planet.  They treat all cars with contempt and expect drivers to conform to whatever riders want to do, regardless of common rules of the road.  They expect pedestrians to get out of their way in awe, when they are not ignoring them as a bird or rat in their path.  This inability to emphasize beyond one’s temporary current role (for riders will soon enough take on the roles of drivers and pedestrians) is characteristic of our selfish and increasingly badly focused culture.  Grump, grump, grump, goes the old guy …

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