Too Late Hot


Very low tide at Mill Dam creek, the outlet for the stream which wanders through Hecksher park and forms a little stream, mostly underground.  This whole area long ago was dotted with mills and their ponds running on the power of the streams which ran ceaselessly from springs up a ways in the sand hills.  In the last fifty years, well after the mills were gone, all the springs have dried up as pumps lowered the water table immensely.  Some of the results, as here, are not particularly pretty, although a person with an odd artistic eye might find it romantically picturesque.

After a very cold, blah summer _ which nevertheless tremendously pleased city dwellers as it depressed beach sales and tourism _ the polar high pressure has retreated for a while, and we are baking in humid head.   Just in time to roast the kids in the non-air-conditioned schools, and make those returning to hard long desk jobs incredibly depressed and angry.  Ah, the mysterious ways of nature.  At least I have a chance to enjoy it, although it has also led to an incredible resurgence of tiger mosquitoes on our patio, which tend to drive me indoors more often than I would like.

Lovely but inedible pokeweed fruit tucked in alongside the debris of the roadside.  I’m surprised it hasn’t been eaten yet, but then again the local bird and insect populations seem quite reduced this year.  I hope that is just a particular anomaly, but I fear from what I read that an ecological catastrophe continues to wreak havoc across the continent.  Well, I was given this day, and even if the end is rapidly approaching, I must make the best of it that I can.

On the other hand, I know that apocalypse of one form or another is a lovely Western tradition.  We like to believe, I think, that our own failings will be washed clean by a general destruction that makes them all irrelevant.  Anything can trigger this cultural artifact _ cold, hot, wet, dry, too many or too few insects or fish.  For all our sophistication, we remain at heart just as superstitious as the ancient Romans with their auguries in flights of birds and animal entrails.

Yesterday when this was taken weather folks claim was the hottest, most humid day of the year in New York.  The beach is deserted, life guard chair and flags put away for next memorial day, rest rooms locked, parents and children back in their little cells.  Us old people, or the very odd or fortunate have everything to themselves.

Perhaps they would be inside anyway.  Dr. Oz and his ilk have terrified with tales of cancerous sun rays, debilitating smog, heat exhaustion, dehydration, sunstroke, coliform bacteria in the water, flesh eating bacteria likewise, ticks with lime, mosquitoes with west nile, tiger mosquitos with chikengunya.  Only bats have escaped so far _ oh, wait, they might have rabies.  I sometimes think H.G. Wells got it wrong _ in the far future the innocent sweet bubbleheads will all be happily underground in hermetically sealed environments, while only the brutish workers roam the horrible wild nature of the surface.

An invasive plant, but handsome all year round, and now with almost bright seed pods ready to fluff out in the coming months like vast halos to catch the sun on frosty mornings.  The “invasive” is a kind of sneer, indicating something aggressive that is pushing out the paradise here before it arrived, presumably made up of non-invasive flora existing in some type of peaceable kingdom.  Anyone who studies botany knows better, everything at one time or another is invasive, and most often crowding something else out, slowly or rapidly, and quite often merely because the environment itself has changed.

Me, I consider myself and everyone I know, quite invasive, and not nearly so attractive on the outside as this reedy wonder.  Our amazing abilities are concentrated inside, although those abilities do allow us to wreak havoc with
any environment.  Hence this “weed.”  I will be gone soon enough, but I suspect that the offspring of this clump will be thriving, although they may have had to climb the hillside pretty quickly to do so as the tide rises higher and higher.


Pretty hot today, feels like a good time to go swimming, summer is wonderful …. Oh, yeah, summer is almost over.  The spartina seeds have almost all dispersed into the surrounding sands and marshes.  Grass thrived this year, and the stands of salt grass are lush and full.  Kind of surprising, because after a rough winter the mats of roots were very scattered and broken and I wasn’t sure they would come back very well.  Just goes to show what I know.

Nature this week is like listening to an old clarinet solo, where a high note is held and goes on and on and impossibly on, without the musician taking a breath.  But take a breath he must, and this heat will suddenly break off just as quickly.  The music will go on, but the end of this tune is certain, sooner rather than later.  Isn’t it amazing that our minds can make such odd connections, let alone try to communicate them?

I always think of goldenrod as the ushers.  Near the end of a fabulous function, while everyone is still having a wonderful experience with no thought of the time, they quietly slip back near the doors to be ready to herd everyone out of the ballroom.  When you see them, even though all is the same, the party will soon be over.  And now they are casting their colorful yellow over the entire landscape.

Admittedly, I enjoy all the seasons.  For those of us adjusted to this climate, every season drags on just a bit too long and becomes tiresome.  Summer heat and oppressively closed in foliage, the cold and snow of winter, the tantalizing but often chill promise of spring.  We’re glad _ especially initially _ of the new challenges of each turn of the climate.  Maybe it’s a small touch of some generic psychological trait that makes us crave the new no matter how nice the status quo.

Ninety degree day, humid like soup, sweat rolling down forehead, and this little member of the compositae _ I don’t know its common name _ flowers and seeds and sends fluff packages off to the unknown.  If you look closely, you can see the ants crawling all over it.  For a moment I feel pity, because neither the plant nor the insects know what is coming, that this moment is an aberration in a long slide into barren deep freeze.

We tend to think we are quite superior, being able to predict the future.  We are aware that the seasons are due to change, that certain plants and animals will die and only offspring will survive.  We smugly know that we will (probably) survive because civilization will (most likely) meet our needs and that those asteroids (almost certainly) will not hit the Earth and as an individual we will not be a mere statistic of the (very few) who die in a car accident or from a bad case of flu.  In fact, when you think about it, we have a great deal of faith in what we think we know about the coming moments, but we don’t really know any more relative to our own paths than those ants or flowers.







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