THESE small flying jewels still take their cue from the quiet October light, just as they always have.

Nashville : From inside my air-conditioned house, the light through my windows looks the way October light is supposed to look - mild, quiet, entirely unlike the thin light of a winter or the sparkling light of spring or the unrelenting light of summer.

In normal years, October is a month for open windows in Middle Tennessee. For cool, damp mornings. For colored leaves that quake in the wind before letting go and lifting away. For afternoon shadows so lovely they fill me with a longing I can't even name.

Relief is on the way, the forecast tells us, but all we have had of autumn so far is the right slant of light, for this year the mid-October light has not brought the usual mild temperatures.

All over the Southeast, and much of the Midwest, October came in like August,breaking heat records. For all of September, it was August in the South, and for all the first week of October, too - severe drought, temperatures near 100 degrees day after day.

My own yard is a s drought-tolerant as I can make it, planted with native trees and shrubs that evolved for this growing zone.

Hardly a blade of water craving grass is left in what passes for a lawn here; to my delight, self-seeding wild flowers have gradually crowded out the grass over the years.

But the wild ground cover is so dry now that it crackles when I walk on it, and little puffs of dust lift from the parched soil with every step.

The once fragrant piles of damp earth that moles turn up in the night are as dry as anthills, and the robins that like to pick through their leavings in the morning seem to have given up all hope of worms.

I finally went to the hardware store to buy a sprinkler, partly to save the new-berry bearing trees and shrubs I planted last spring for the songbird migration, and partly because I take so much pleasure from watching all the neighborhood robins darting through the edges of the spray, catching insects desperate for moisture.

I know their dance is nothing more than survival, but to me it looks exactly like joy.

Turning leaves are ordinarily the loveliest part of this lovely month, but this year the leave are still green - drooping but green - and the few that have already fallen are dry and brown.

The September rains they needed for October color never materialized.

Here in middle Tennessee, September 2019 was the driest on record. Somewhere in the region someone got 02 inches of rain last month, I hear, but at our house, we got none.

And yet the light is nevertheless October light, and light is one of the seasoned triggers that tells migratory birds when it's time to move on.

According to the indispensable website of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, more than 650 species of birds have nest in North America, and more than half of species migrate.

These days I stand at the window every chance I get to watch the last of the ruby-throated hummingbirds drinking from the feeders I've set out to compensate for the loss of wildflowers during the drought year.

The ruby throat migration is well underway now, never mind the persistent summer temperatures, and these are not the same birds that nested in my yard earlier in the summer.

The honor and serving of this beautiful post, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Margaret Renki, who covers flora, and fauna, politics and culture in the American South.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!