On the Saturday following Labor Day, our property had been transformed into a different ecological zone. After a summer of weekend rains, it was raining again. By early evening the rain had stopped, but the land, and everything on it, had become saturated. There was standing water on top of the hill. Frogs were hopping in and out the newly created ponds. Below the hill, patches of fog dulled the vivid autumn colors of trees in the distance.
Overnight a cold front moved in, banishing the fog, and in the morning trees, flowers and grasses stood sharp again. There was only a short time before we’d begin the drive back to the city, and I hurriedly set out, camera over my shoulder.
I’d been working hard to identify and photograph the flora on our property. I’d made a lot of progress the past spring, using blossoms of flowers and trees as the guiding feature. But at this time, early fall, I was reminded of how many species I still couldn’t identify. The bushes and low trees along the edge of the meadows were dense. In summer they’d made an uninterrupted palisade of green.
In fall, however, their individuality became apparent. The leaves were beginning to turn, and there were berries of different colors. Now I could easily identify different varieties of dogwood by their sprigs of red or white berries. There were smooth deep purple berries on some branches, bumpy deep purple on others. Were they viburnum berries, mulberries, or serviceberries? The week before, guidebook in hand, I’d discovered we had bittersweet on our land. In late summer bittersweet berries are plump balls of delicate green, not the easily recognizable crinkled-up orange ones. I walked around Pine Island to check on the pin cherry that I’d located last autumn. Once again it was decorated with graceful dangles of pink and green berries.
A change in the light made me realize I’d spent more time in my discovery mode than I’d planned. The sun was going down. As I quickly hiked back to the car, I stepped into a band of soft amber light. It highlighted a small patch of meadow near the treeline that the farmer hadn’t bothered to mow. White Queen Anne’s lace, yellow goldenrod, pink clover, and purple wild asters stood above dull-colored grass. In that leftover ragtag of summer, dozens of dragonflies dipped and rose, alighting on each flower for only a moment, before they lifted and flew again. The light picked up the colors of the wildflowers and transferred them to the dragonflies’ delicate, translucent wings. Through my entire field of vision little glints of pale yellow, pink, and lavender rose and fell to nature’s silent music.
I didn’t bother to take out my camera. No photograph could capture this scene. I stood and tried to imprint the intricate dance into my memory.
© Barbara Scoblic 2019