The Sights and Sounds of Summer Reprise

According to school calendars, summer has ended. According to the segments of the local economy that generate their revenue from summer activities, summer has ended. According to the calendar there are still three more weeks before the fall equinox. Nonetheless, sunrise just before 6:30 a.m. and sunset just before 7:30 p.m. remind us that the solstice was many weeks ago and summer is, indeed, ending.

What do we still see and hear? As late as Labor Day weekend a few cicadas were still emerging and hoping to attract mates. Crickets have been heard all summer long but late summer and early fall is the time when they really seem the most noticeable. As this is being written one cricket is chirping within a few feet of the back door even though is the middle of the day.

On the subject of crickets, Jody and I had the pleasure of listening to a fine performance by the Stone Soup Symphony in Passaic’s Memorial Park on Thursday, 29th August.  The sound of an outdoor concert is not a sound that occurs in nature but it is still one of the best sounds to be heard on a summer evening. On our way home through the park the volume of the cricket chirps was substantial. Also present, although unexpected, was the call of a single katydid. I don’t recall the last time I heard a katydid in this neighborhood. It’s likely that they’ve been around but I just wasn’t paying attention.

On another trip through the park at dusk this evening (2nd September) we saw at least one bat. We saw a bat at different times and in different locations so we might have seen more than one. Just as we arrived back at home we saw what we believed to be a flock six to eight nighthawks. They will soon begin their trip south.

Mockingbirds are still around, but the only sound that they make now is the warning sound that indicates the presence of a predator in the area. A cat, not much past kitten phase herself, is raising a litter of four kittens near our compost pile. She and her kittens constantly give the local birds something to squawk about. Even one of the local northern flickers was agitated by the cats and sat on the fence giving his “kyeer” this morning.

Catbirds have been more vocal than usual. As with their cousins the mockingbirds, they may be making noise to warn of predators in the vicinity.

Noticeable changes have begun that signal the end of the summer season. Our pussy willow tree has begun to drop its leaves. The last few years we’ve noticed that it drops its leaves in late August and early September. By mid-September it is almost completely bare. The leaves don’t turn color; they either fall off while still green or begin to turn brown and then fall off. Has it been dropping its leaves this early all along and I’ve simply not noticed?  In other respects the tree appears healthy despite the large scar left by a rotting branch that fell away several years ago.

Summer’s end has never been a pleasant time for me. It’s always reminded me of missed opportunities. So as the days are shortened and the temperature begins to drop, I am reminded that I should make the most of every opportunity to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)

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