Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Dog Days of Summer

I've just read A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold a wonderful short story highlighting natural happenings month by month in rural Wisconsin.  Each month is described with animal behavior, notable plants of that season, human activity, and of course weather in a very poetical and beautiful way.  For example, Leopold describes April as a time of floods and of the Woodcocks' "Sky Dance," and November as the time of wind music, and the ax.  I enjoyed reading that a Wisconsin May is marked by the return of Upland Sandpipers from their winter in Argentina, this last April Jacob and I saw Upland Sandpipers in route to perhaps Wisconsin.  I don't know why I missed reading Leopold's naturalist classic until now, but I am happy to have read it and heartily recommend it especially if you enjoy noting signs of the season.

August is marked in my yard by brown and mostly harvested sunflowers, several generations of Anoles leaping from brown sunflower to green turk's cap, the passion vine I planted this spring reaching above the porch with its first blooms, and Gulf Fritillary Butterflies flitting around sipping nectar from the zinnias while its caterpillar munches a passion vine leaf.  Relief washes over me as signs of the end of summer start peaking around the bend; Orion and his dog Canis Major at dawn, the sun waking up a little later, a monarch heading south, gathering Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, the end of summer camp, and the reopening of schools.  In Austin, summer weather extends well into September, so I must not get too wistful for lower temperatures, but it gives me pleasure to see hints of a change to come and read the signs of the place I live and love.

Signs I look for in Austin
Spring- Bluebonnets, migrating warblers, planting tomatoes
Summer- Cicadas, hot weather, lizards, mockingbirds, sunflowers
Fall- Colored leaves, pumpkins, sweaters
Winter- Winter ducks, broccoli, warm drinks and soup  

What signs do you look for in your yard, or area?  What animal or plant says summer or winter?

Our second passion vine flower!

Passion vine growing on the porch

A Gulf Fritillary Butterfly flying next to the bloom

Gulf Fritillary on a Zinna

Green Anole hunting for insects

Antro and I in the Colorado River, sitting on a submerged log.
It was the first time Antro went swimming.  Silly wouldn't get in the water.