A Prelude to Solstice: The Birthing of Summer’s Rhythm
The cold, wet, blustery days of June
soak into my bones and psyche,
perpetuating countless cycles of melancholy.
Its dense, grey clouds blown by a restless, taunting wind
scud across the darkening skies,
obliterating my soul’s source of warmth.
Hidden deep, prickly nuances of feeling
form an edginess of conflicting guise,
surfacing to scatter my emotional tranquility.
The herbs and flowers in the valley meadow
lie doubled over, bereft of grace and beauty,
cringing at the duplicity of false starts and cold rains.
And into that moment seemingly most bleak
delivery of its finest gift
pulsing with new life, wobbly in knee.
joins a landscape adorned with sun rays and rainbows
adding its vigor of life and light to the rhythm of the season.
My eye catches sight of a spider’s silk
caught on the lip of the watering can
trailing a wispy piece of willow fluff.
The fluff twists and turns,
then settles against the side of the can
before it, again, is caught
by an invisible breeze and rises,
unable to break free of the strong webbing
designed to hold hapless insects.
Another piece of fluff floats by
and I watch it twist, rise upward,
sail across the lawn, and turn,
before disappearing into the greenery
of the windbreak to an unknown fate.
I watch as more fluffy remnants,
each holding clumps of tufted seeds,
float into the bird baths,
onto the pebbles of the rose beds
and lawn grasses.
Lost in the reverie of the moment,
a swallow startles me as it darts closely
in front of my face,
its coloration, shape, and agility
having been honed by centuries
of genetic expression
into an efficient insect hunter
of the skyways.
And as I stand pondering
the evolution of the spider’s webbing,
the swallow’s ability
to catch insects in mid-flight,
and the willow’s seed dispersal,
I marvel at their complexity
wrapped in seeming natural simplicity.
Thin, wispy strands
of feathery-white cirrus clouds
grace the blue sky,
heralding an approaching weather system.
As the eventual rains threaten,
insect activity picks up
energetically zipping about
providing fodder for the
barn, tree and violet-green swallows.
Iridescent shades of cobalt blue,
orange-tawny, olive, steely blue, purple,
white and greenish-bronze
color these feathered aerial insectivores
as they cruise, scoop, glide, soar,
dart and snatch on the wing.
With insatiable appetites,
they make for good neighbors
eating thousands of bugs per day,
hundreds of thousands during nestling times.
What a simple pleasure it is
as my eyes trace their supple, acrobatic maneuverings
through barnyards, neighborhoods,
o’er rivers and wetlands,
coming to a perching rest on wires and branches
before sailing off once again.
I eagerly await their arrival in the spring
and am sad to see them go come autumn;
one day they’re here, everywhere,
and when they’re gone, they’re gone,
with no advance warning either time
except for a certain innate anticipation on my part.
Nettles and the Red Admiral Butterfly
The hedgerow is filled with
sensuous clusters of pea green, immature seeds
hanging thickly from stout nettle stalks
whose leaves bear scars of being eaten
by voracious red admiral caterpillars
immune to the acids within.
While watching the Red Admirals flutter onward,
I pop a cluster, or two, into my mouth and chew,
releasing the seeds’ mucilaginous properties
which impart a tingling reminder via the tongue
that they are supplying vital, energetic, and
trophorestorative nutrition to fuel my day.
An Early Morning Visitor to our Backyard
Munching rose petals
and nibbling sowthistle buds,
the yearling departs.
Born to Speak
We are of this earth,
born to speak the language of her waters,
skies and soils, and all who dwell upon and within;
she teaches us on her own terms,
in her own time what the meaning is
of the duck feather floating at the edge of the pond,
the patterns of clouds drifting across the skies,
the changes in bird song before a rain storm,
and why dew collects on the spider’s web at dawn
if we remember first to listen.