I’m sitting on the thick branch of a fallen tree, perched just above the waters of the Monocacy and hidden by dangling bunches of ripe pokeberries. The berries are poisonous to us but good food for the birds, who already have consumed about half of the deep purple fruits, leaving the empty magenta stems as simple ornaments.
There is a pair of chickadees in a nearby tree, their voices more obvious than their tiny feathered forms. They hang from the japanese hop vines, eating their ripe seeds. If I sit still long enough, I’ll see more birds, like the downy woodpecker that just stopped to inspect the maple tree on my right.
It’s perfect sit-and-watch weather, cool and clear and mostly free of the annoying flying insects that plague late summer days. Of course. It’s fall now, but early in the season, when most everything is still clothed in green and the crickets sing at night. Butterflies and moths are making their final rounds among the goldenrod, asters and sneezeweed, and wooly caterpillars are appearing on walking paths.
At home I’m harvesting the last of my tomatoes and collecting seeds from my zinnias for next year’s spring planting. I hear people speak of spring as the season of hope, but in some ways fall is even more so. Despite everything.