September Seeds

Monday

Milkweed puffs ready to take flight over the ripening goldenrod fields at Upland Farms.
  • In September all the fruits and seeds finally ripen and begin their hopeful dormancies for seasons to come.  Fields are filled with floating white silk milkweed rising into clouds of dragonflies, while thistle weeds begin their journey through the bowels of yellow finches which will spread them about.  Wild grapes await harvest, although many birds prefer abundant poison ivy berries.
  • The last flowers are rushing to climax.  Goldenrod and asters join the late parade of pigweed and grasses of all kinds.  There are only a few weeks until equinox,  a scant two months until first frost. 
  • I have known that intellectually for some time.  But did I not, the bounteous climax of the natural world would inform me that vast changes are soon to occur.

Tuesday

If smartweed were not so invasive, it would probably be cultivated for its late, bright, vigorous display.
  • Few songs and poems are composed to our native hickory trees.  Oaks are mighty and strong in song and story, willows weep for poets, and stately beeches inspire young lovers to carve initials.  But hickories are frankly dirty nuisances to suburban homeowners.
  • Their tannic acids poison the ground around them, making it all but impossible to grow things underneath.  Branches sprout at right angles, tempting breaks in snowfall and wind, forcing expensive trimming.  Compound leaves get caught in gutters and ornamental bushes as they fall.  And the nuts.
  • Oh, the nuts.  If they were only easily opened and sweetly edible they would provide a vast wonderful harvest.  They are neither.  Instead the huge green fruits dent cars as they fall, bruise the unwary head beneath when the wind blows.  And fall by countless pounds to be swept painfully into barrels.
  • Of course, this was once their climax forest.  Sometimes I think they know it, and are screaming their resentment of our intrusion all year long.

Wednesday

Hickory nuts ripening and ready to be knocked down by autumnal storms or scampering squirrels.
  • Great oaks from little acorns grow.
  • The very concept of seeds is an incomprehensible miracle.

Thursday

Dandelion puffs are clichés of literature and photography _ for very good reasons.
  • Autumn harvests are the grand reinforcement of temperate zone natural cycles.  In the tropics monsoons come and go, dry periods arrive periodically, but September in the Northern Hemisphere signals a need to get crops in, to save seeds for next year, possibly to sow overwintering cereal crops for early harvest.
  • Daily cycles are easy to understand.  Tides are much more difficult.  Weather is impossible.  But anticipation of winter arrival in most of the northern hemisphere was once a matter of life and death.  Until our ancestors were intelligent and culturally wise enough to prepare half a year in advance of their quotidian needs, they could not struggle onto the vast panoramas of Europe and Asia. 

Friday

Lovely purple bunches of ripe pokeweed rarely survive bird appetites for very long.
  • Fruits now have become huge and heavy, hard or rotting, depending on evolved natural strategies which are always fascinating.  These plants depend on attracting animals to eat their seeds and spread them about.  An alternate poetic method of vegetation mobility is flight on the winds.
  • Dandelions are almost done, but the autumn air is filled with white motes of milkweed, thistle, and vast variations such as asters.  These depend on fluff to ride stronger breezes and gales.  By necessity, such seeds are minuscule, and it is hard to believe they can pack in enough genetic material to begin anew on some appropriate soil after a harsh winter.   

Saturday

Graceful plumes feather against blue skies as summer slides away as quietly and inevitably as the tide.
“Whee!  What a ride!” cries tiny Alda, floating along a blue breeze.
“The golden hours, just as they told us,” laughs Janice, “What a view!”
“And to think they taught us genes are all work and no fun …”

Tiny milkweed parachutes in the immensity of early autumn, fragile, eternal, wonderful.

Sunday

Grasses flicker in constant breeze, blurring meadows, seascapes, path sides, and edges of ponds.
Gigantic firs, stupendous fungi
Start as tiny invisible spores
Impossible but true
Throughout lives we worship nature
For all our science

Life as ineffable as ever was

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