-Treebeard, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
It may seem early to start talking about Autumn, but I’m sure many are like me in that it’s one of our favorite seasons, and so any excuse to talk about it is probably welcome! Everyone loves the aromas, the colors, the cool breezes, the sense of things moving on, the fruits of past labors producing their harvest, and the eerie, tingling feeling of life beyond the “seen and known.”
autumn has come
visiting my ear on
a pillow of wind
The quote by Treebeard helps one gather all those feelings into a single moment. It’s like a good haiku in that it opens up the whole subjective palate of Autumn’s gifts through a few brief images and concepts. With that, we start painting our own associations and remembrances into the mystic air of private thought.
Basho illustrates the reflective qualities of Autumn with this wonderful haiku.
on a bare branch
a crow settled down
Every year about a week after Lughnasadh, the celtic celebration of “first harvest,” we generally see beautiful gold-colored dragonflies in our front lawn, hovering and flashing through the slanting evening rays of the late summer sun. This year, we haven’t seen them. We have been very disappointed by this and hope it’s not because of Global Climate Change or pollution or some other ill effect of human ignorance and indifference. I’m not sure what type of dragonfly they are, but their lovely influence persists and we remember them fondly.
Earlier in the summer or late spring we see the “Yellow-wing darter,” which are fearless in that they allow one to approach very close and observe them at length. Of course, they also “watch back” at you and it’s thrilling to observe them rotating their heads to view the various goings on in their world, otherwise known to us as our “front lawn.” They seem quite attuned to any movement or change.
The ones that come after Lughnasadh don’t have any red and look more golden. They truly shimmer in the sunlight. We’ve noticed, too, that when they are present, mosquitos seem to diminish. What a blessing! On my 40th birthday (early August) there were so many that we were able to have a large group of revelers in the front lawn, chatting, sporting, imbibing refreshment, without the constant harassment of mosquitoes . Literally none. It was a real gift.
It’s possible that these may be the female Western Meadowhawk.
Perhaps the reason that we haven’t seen them this August is that we have been especially careful about eliminating sources of standing water on the property to reduce the presence of disease-bearing mosquitoes. Like mosquitoes, dragonflies start out in the water as naiads. Because our efforts at reducing mosquitoes have been somewhat successful, and because dragonflies follow a similar life-cycle, perhaps the diminishing of both populations is caused by removing water caches around the property. It’s interesting that in taking actions to reduce the mosquito population we may also have reduced the presence of our favorite late-summer guest from the insect world. The fabric of nature is “whole and entire.”
If you’re interested in reading more about dragonflies and finding help identifying those in your area, BugGuide has a great page here.
Treebeard’s sentiment, “it was more than my desire,” echoes my feelings about Autumn. Autumn always exceeds my expectations. It always seems new. I learn something new every Autumn about nature and my personal place in it.
In Part 2, I’ll write more about this transitional time from Summer to Fall.
a last loud song
[read Part 2]