The next two weeks are peak colors around here, what there is of it along the harbor. The vines go first, like this one draped along a fence. The locusts are mostly bright yellow, everything else _ not so much. Upland a bit _ say at Hecksher park _ there are a few bursts of brilliance.
In a way, it’s a time somewhat hard to focus on, almost a dreamtime. It is still very warm and humid, even when the mists settle in. Too late for swimming, and to tell the truth many of us are a little tired of heat and humidity. Yet we also know that in another month we will be fervently wishing for the return of spring. The problem, always, is to focus on today and experience it _ ignoring what will come or has been or might be. Harder than it sounds.
Mill Dam park, built on filled in salt marsh at head of harbor, has at least one sugar maple _ at least that’s what I assume it is, which stands out for its brilliance around now every year. But as certain as the leaves are the organized fall sports and their parents sitting on the sidelines. This is the great time for such activities _ the weather is pleasant, hopes for teams and individuals are high, everything is beautiful and possible. In another month it has turned into a chore, in cold rain and wind, with a losing record or second string status, or parents starting to realize that their seven year old might not be headed for a college scholarship after all.
Human activities constantly change, but I suppose there have been analogues to this through all societies in all of history and before. The trees and seasons don’t care at all, and have been constantly marching on to their own rhythm.
Hecksher Park is far enough removed from the water that some of the trees become pretty spectacular, this being an early example. A little further on, the historic cemetery (with graves from well before the revolutionary war) has fantastic seasonal ambience (and sobering reflections) in late October.
The main thing is, it is fleeting, and not guaranteed. The media now inform about the weeks of peak color, but peak color is only really there if the weather holds. Sometimes the trees are just turning and get stripped by a storm before there is anything to look at. You need to seize the day where you are, each moment, and not where you might go on some ideal weekend afternoon that may never come.
This view is far from timeless _ anchored in artifacts of exactly this time, from the chain link fence to the dock, to the yachts in the marina. Fifty years ago, this would have been pretty empty with no fence, no docks and maybe one anchored clamboat. Fifty years from now, it is probably all under water. We think the world goes on as we have known it forever, and what we have known has been there always, but that is never true. We are truly dust in the wind.
Storm clouds, light rain, wind, and a feeling of autumn even though the temperature is pretty warm. The grasses are turning, the leaves are stripping off the branches, berries are ripe, and the goldenrod is in full force. Yet almost nobody comes down here to the beach to see anything _ busy rushing somewhere on the highway above, they might simply note that the sun is not out today as they drive to their important engagements.
You have to live, and you need to do what you must to do so. I myself have often driven by, only concerned with whether the rain would hinder my commute. To comment on how people sometimes cannot appreciate the world fully is not to say they are doing anything wrong or could change today. You can, after all, only take advantage of opportunities to see sights such as these if you actually have the time and energy and opportunity to actually do so.
From the beach, through the grass, to the bathhouse on Gold Star Battalion beach. The restrooms are locked and the staff and life guards long gone, but the windows still need boarding up against winter storms. The big sandy stretch in front has been taken over by dogs and their owners.
One of my great joys in these later days is to be able to go to the common places I go all the time, but to spend a little effort to see them in a different way, or find a slightly different perspective. It does not take a trip to Egypt or Brazil to jog our perceptions out of their normal ruts, if we simply cultivate a sense of adventure and wonder no matter where we are and how familiar it seems.
Poison Ivy is such a pretty plant in most seasons that it is difficult to avoid using it in pictures. Were it not for its obnoxious qualities it would be used heavily in gardens _ but it is certainly hardy enough around here not to need much help.
The amazing thing about ecology is how many things fit together. Poison Ivy, precisely because it is harmful to humans, is a real benefit to wildlife, with berries and hiding places for birds and small mammals. A reason to learn about the natural world is to appreciate how different things can work to make a larger whole, and to then apply those lessons to our own lonely inner self and occasional feelings of inadequacy. There is a place, somehow, for almost everything and everyone in some meaningful way.