Saturday, June 15, 2013

Summer Mornings

There is nothing like a summer morning. Dragonflies hover motionless in the sunlight along the wide dirt path that separates vineyard from orchard, their transparent wings gleaming golden as they throw back the sun’s heat and cool their own small shadows. Songbirds dot the high tension wires, while a pair of mourning doves race over rows of planted vines. 

Mornings like these call me away from my desk. Seeds swelling and unfurling, pods sprouting, hot winds beckoning. Small things gather into larger things, which gather into larger things, which merge into one big thing. Wisdom accumulated over millions of years. A prickly grass seed stuck to my sock becomes a poem.

Barn Swallow Close-up, taken by Michael Smith
The even, steady tempo of a cricket’s chirp emerges from a tangle of roadside brush. When I reach the entrance to the paved West County bike trail and walking path, torpedo-shaped barn swallows greet me with their narrow curved wings and short forked tails. Sapphire blue with a frosting of peach across the cheeks and white along the belly, these birds have taken advantage of the high wall of an abandoned firehouse on which to build their cup-shaped mud nests just beneath the slanting roofline. There they will remain undisturbed, that is, unless the citizens of Graton vote to tear the building down.

Walking in the dappled shade of the trail, well attended by tall tree growth on either side, I stop to marvel at the trumpet shaped flowers of a blooming Catalpa tree. 

Although the distinctive heart-shaped leaves and dangling beans are noticeable from hundreds of yards away, today it is the sweet fragrance emanating from a showy crown of white flowers that captures my attention. 

“The moments when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only hours when we really live,” writes the British naturalist Richard Jeffries.

 What if he is right?