- 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.
- 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.
- Great oaks from little acorns grow.
- The very concept of seeds is an incomprehensible miracle.
- 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.
- 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.
Tiny milkweed parachutes in the immensity of early autumn, fragile, eternal, wonderful.
Life as ineffable as ever was