Summer has turned a corner. Evenings are suddenly cooler, and a nighttime chorus of crickets and grasshoppers drowns out the sound of the lumber mill. Unripe pears are dropping off my pear tree, luring fat porcupines from the woods for their daily meal. The deer are already nibbling at the young apple tree in the back yard, as their diet switches over from grass to twigs and bark.
How do bears know when to start fattening up for winter? Or Canada geese know when to fly south? During summers when I have lived out in the country I have become accustomed to noticing nature’s many timekeepers–the changing colors of roadside wildflowers, the ripening in succession of rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries and grapes, and the morphing of tadpoles into frogs.
At other times of the year I rely on the changing constellations to mark the seasons, looking for Orion to make his appearance above the horizon in late fall, and watching him disappear in late spring.
As August’s days begin to grow noticeably shorter, I take the time to appreciate them even more, so that the memory of them will warm me in the long dark nights ahead.