On a long trail ride today, at midday, I felt the turn of the year—or if it hasn’t turned yet, it’s at least yearning to change course.
No insects circling my horse’s head, battening on her warm neck! And the silence. From the tree frogs in Spring through, mayflies, mosquitoes, black flies in July and August, we hear “those dying generations at their song” as Yeats wrote. To me, their song sounds like: “We-e-e-e mus-s-s-t!” The insects will do anything to get the blood meal they need to gestate. Nothing personal, I fancy them thinking, and, well, IF you have to, take a swat at me, but….I need!” And so, also, sing the swooping swallows and bats who consume the insects.
My favorites are the fireflies (not least because they don’t eat us!) When I walk at night in April, I see the larvae glowing among the gravel and dried leaf debris on the sides of our lane, the colour of tiny LEDs. In June, they take to the air, a million living meteorites seeking fulfillment. Now, once again, they have returned to the place where their light was kindled, there, in the gritty mulch, after passing their cool greenish torches to their offspring, they will cease to be. It is only the next “must”.
The woods are still glossily verdant. From a distance, the canopy is beginning to show a slight bronzing, and you might see an older tree which is displaying a few bright red branches, like a flash of scarlet petticoat. But once inside the forest, young trees and sappers are still green, and will be for a long time. After the canopy is bare, so that no colour can be seen from afar, then they will flourish their red and gold and orange. They are glorious in November! (Nobody ever believes me when I tell ‘em this! Good— more solitude for me!)
Summer’s work, estivation, is done. “The whispering year is gone” as MacLeish wrote in Immortal Autumn. Summer’s edifice, now, is like a splendid palace, swept and garnished, the busy, cacophonous, workers who sang, ate and were eaten, mated, bustled about in her halls while their labours were in progress, home have gone and ta’en their wages…it is finished. They are at rest, and as Shakespeare wrote:
The rest is silence.