Today I heard my first elk bugle of this year's rut, sounding far off in the valley of the river. I was roaming around the front yard hunting blackberry vines to snip, although their attempts to take over are weakening. The vines that have kept in hiding this long are putting out a peace offering, clumps of ripening berries, so I leave them alone. When the berries are gone I suspect I'll forget they were ever there and snip the vines anyway.
The summer is rolling over. This is the season of the flying termites. It is the season of falling crow feathers. The damp cold bites at the edges of a clean sky, the slugs boldly creep up the edges of the pavement even while the sun still shines. It is a time when the air feels right for the sound of both the sprinkler and the rain, and when the smell of rotting fruit hangs heavy in the fading leaves.
The sunlight is no longer crossing the places I've grown accustomed to. Because of the shortened days I have had to forgo sipping my morning coffee outside, shifting every few minutes to keep my head in the shade, and now cling to the warmth of the mug to help shake off the early chill. Ominous, the summer losing its grip. When I walk the grass in the morning it squishes between my toes, rather than sending up flurries of summertime insects. The water table is rising, grabbing at us to suck us down into the long winter months when sky and ground alike will drown in rain.
The nights have turned quiet here, so different from the earlier months of summer. I was reminded of this when I came across an old blog entry that I never put up, a post titled "Night Music." I wrote it in the beginning of July, when the nights were full of noises. One night as I lay on the verge of sleep, I thought to assign each noise an equivalent orchestral instrument, and so I wrote this:
bullfrogs = cellos
fog horn = french horn
rooster crowing = trumpet
barking dogs = trombones
lowing cows = bassoons
peacock calling = oboe
tree frogs = piccolos
the cuckoo clock downstairs = clarinet
the grandmother clock downstairs = tubular bell
ocean waves = the rustling of the audience
I couldn't make much of it after I assigned a part for everyone, and so I tucked that post away. But now I realize that while in July I could hear every one of those noises every night, these nights are eerily still. Even the fog horn and the ocean seem to keep quiet, perhaps muffled by the blanket of clouds that the cold air tosses over us when the daylight disappears.
The nights won't be still for long. A few more bugles of elk, the odd coyote yip or two, and soon October will be upon us, the sounds of the wind stripping the leaves and howling in the rafters, and the house groaning as it shifts, and the rain beating down in sheets and torrents.
But the days hear still speak summer, and the huckleberry bushes are bending under the weight of their fruit. I still see honeybees on the lavender, and so I won't think about fall just yet. Not yet.