The ripeness time

Sitting on the back porch last weekend on two occasions I was visited briefly by hummingbirds. They both abruptly flew up and hovered about a foot in front of my face then dashed off southward. I noticed too several monarch butterflies fluttering slowly in a southerly direction that same afternoon.

These are sure signs that summer has peaked and passed; autumn approaches. It's a time of fulfillment, ripeness, harvest. I was, in fact, resting on the porch after a strenuous session in the community garden picking okra, peppers and green beans, then bringing them home to freeze and can for the winter.

The ripeness of late summer applies everywhere, not just in gardens. It is everywhere that knows summer's passing. The trees ripen their nuts and fruits. Acorns bombard the deck above my porch. The blossoms of June and July have become the fat pods of September. Last spring's birthing and hatching have long since left the womb and the egg; next year's parents, fledged and furred, fatten up for the coming seige of winter.

Hal Borland, who wrote a nature column for the New York Times for years, wrote: "Life now begins to relax into the annual pause that is a kind of biological Indian summer, a time of relative ease and quiet. The plant commits its future to the seed and root. The insect stows its tomorrow in the egg and pupa. And, as the urgency begins to abate, man (sic), close to the land and surrounded by his own harvest, knows again the old, old truths of the season. It is, even today, the time of ripeness, of reaping, of plenty, of summer come to fulfillment."

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