Fall Friends

Tisen and I have been discovering friends new and old on many of our walks of late.  The other day, for example, we crossed the street to enter the park and found Tisen’s girlfriend Twiggy out for a stroll with her mom and dad.

Twiggy wasn’t up for romance, however.  Today, her mind is all about the rampant rodent population living in the tall grasses growing on the hillside.  It’s fall, after all, and the busy critters have been breeding all summer.  Now, the entire population is fattening up for winter.  From Twiggy’s perspective, it probably seems like a buffet.

In spite of Twiggy’s amazing leaps and bounds, she comes up empty mouthed.  Tisen, however, looks at her with adoration like he can’t believe her athletic prowess and is imagining her bringing home venison for dinner.

We say our goodbyes and are soon greeted by deep purple flowers that I’m going to guess are some sort of variety of fall asters, although they look far more cultivated than the wild variety that used to grow in our garden up North.

They bob and curtsy at us as our friends the Goldfinches, who are not looking so gold these days, land and depart on the dried seed pods of nearby plants.  I believe these were once our friends the purple coneflowers that have now shriveled into thin, brown mummies.  The goldfinches continue visiting them and harvesting their seed, storing it as fat for their winter coat.

I am reminded of the lateness of the season by all of this activity.  The days are shorter, the temperatures nearly tolerable, and the birds are far quieter.  I pause for a moment and listen.  A month ago, I would have heard a Titmouse, a Chickadee, a Cardinal, a Wren, a Towhee, a Robin, and an Indigo bunting in this park.  Today, all I hear are the cicadas buzzing away with their strange song.

While Twiggy may be too busy hunting to think about romance, for me, this is always the most romantic time of year.  A sense of nostalgia sets in along with the inevitable awareness of time passing that comes with it.  Another year wrapping up.  Autumn is more poignant than new year’s when it comes to reminding me of my own mortality.  In the fall, everything seems to be moving on in one way or another.  Perhaps as a nomad (at least in my imagination), I long for my own migration.

When Tisen and I encounter our next group of friends, the bees and butterflies, so dense on a brilliant white flower I don’t recognize that they’re sharing blossoms, I remember that this is migration season for the butterflies, too.  While the bees will hole up for the winter, the butterflies will take to the winds and head for warmer climates.  I look at these tiny, delicate insect-birds and wonder how they can possibly migrate a few dozen miles, let alone thousands.  One of life’s many wonders.