Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Quiet Woods

The deep woods behind our house are so quiet now. After a cold spring and early summer, we're having a lovely Indian summer, with crisp evenings and warm sunny days. I've been taking advantage of the fact that the mud has (finally!) dried on many of the trails I walk. But most of the birds have left already, and all I hear is the rustle of the wind in the drying leaves, or a woodpecker peck-pecking for bugs, or the shrill cry of a Steller's Jay.

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?


Judi said...

Indian summer in Central Oregon lacks the afternoon winds that cool the evenings. Early dinners outside are more enjoyable, lacking the constant lunge after the flying napkin.

Your birds, Linda, have flown this far and I enjoy hearing the chatter in the heavily laden apple tree, and thank them for helping eliminate my chore of spraying.

The "bluebird" sky greets me in the crisp sunny mornings Though, just a bit too cold to enjoy my morning coffee outside.

Additional layered clothing is necessary at this time of year. The sweatshirt or coat that I wear outside in the morning is shed long before noon and by afternoon, I'm looking at the grand children's wading pool wishing it were filled.

Tomatoes are ripening now, and the sweatpeas are still blooming with sweet fragrance and color to fill my senses with summer.

Oh! my wish to hold fast to the last remnant of summer is a dream that will soon be frozen in time.

Patricia said...

What a lovely place you live in, Linda. Wow.
I live in a small city and there are no trails here to walk like you're describing. But I do get to go on trail rides with my horse in the Oakland hills and there is nature all around with birds and squirrels and wild rabbits and deer. That's really cool. Here at home I sit out on the deck every day unless it's too cold, but that won't happen for another month or so. I can see tons of squirrels in the trees and hear birds tweeting and an occasional woodpecker.

Linda Benson said...

Judi and Patti - It's nice to hear from others who also enjoy nature. For those of us in the cold climates, the end of summer always feels a bit melancholy. And I think it makes us pensive and poetic - ha. Our cherry tomatoes have ripened, but the bigger tomatoes are still green as gourds. Hopefully we'll have enough sun left to get them a little red, and then we'll let them finish ripening on the kitchen counter.

I have seen a flock of cedar waxwings overhead lately, and the red-breasted nuthatches are still going strong here, too. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder, to find the beauty. OMG - now I'm getting philosophical. Aack - time to go actually - write!