Earlier this summer, the forest was filled with bird song. The Swainson's Thrush have the loveliest song, trilling through the trees, but they only grace us with their presence for the months of June and July, long enough to raise their young, and one day are just - gone. South.
Our barn swallows stayed later than usual this year, diligently raising a second brood of babies, but suddenly I realized that they have left also. Even the robins are gone.
We still have our most common birds, which are juncos, chickadees, steller's jays, mourning doves, red-tailed hawks, crows and ravens. Even a few turkey vultures still soar overhead, but they will leave soon also to ride the thermals down to California or Mexico.
I heard the deep Hoo Hoo, Hooo Hooo of a great horned owl in the trees the other night. (Actually, I was pretty sure that's what it was, but turned on my light, found my bird identification books, and checked to make sure I was correct.)
The silence of the woods, the stirring of the dry leaves, and the last brief, warm days of summer all mean that fall and winter will soon be here. Birds will hunker down, the winter wren will take shelter in our barn on the coldest nights, and I will fill the birdfeeder and break ice on our birdbath.
I sometimes wonder about all the people driving their cars so fast on the freeways, hugging someone's bumper, hoping to arrive at their destination a few seconds sooner. Are they even aware of the cycles of the natural world around them? Look up, I want to tell them. That's a red-tail hawk sitting in that big alder tree. Or a kettle of vultures ready to head south. Or a bald eagle, heading to the river to fish. Did you see it?
How about you? What did you spot today? Do you feel the rhythms of the natural world around you?