Get Out! – The Circle of the Seasons



Photo Dennis Venderspek
A rare sight: A Great Egret fishing on the millpond in Millbrook

Spring is generally considered the start of the round of the seasons; but surely I’m not alone in thinking it’s the fall. The grip of the school year remains firm in my soul, I suppose. But then again I love the fall and why can’t it be regarded as the beginning of the circle of the seasons? After all, a circle has no beginning or end. And this fall (well, technically it hasn’t begun quite yet, but that’s a quibble) is starting on a glorious note.

The light has changed. And I don’t just mean that the days are shorter at both ends. The angle of the light is different and the early morning sun is often filtered through a dewy atmosphere. I love how it looks and feels. The past few mornings have been heavy with dew and the flowers and leaves look especially attractive shimmering with dewy beads.

I’ve harped on about this many times but I can’t stress enough that you should be prepared for many a surprise when you go out walking. Earlier in August as I was setting out with my dog, I was nearing the mill when I decided to stop and look out at the millpond. Something white in a tree caught my eye. I looked over and there in the branches was a huge white bird, the size and shape of a Great Blue Heron. Luckily this beautiful white bird stayed quite still for many minutes, allowing me to get a really good look with my binoculars. No, it wasn’t an albino Great Blue Heron because it had a yellow (not pink) eye and its legs were black. Finally it flew and I could see that its neck was tucked in like a heron and its legs were extended backwards also like a heron. It landed in shallow water and began to hunt just like a heron. But it had no long topknot like our large heron. Later when I was back at home and had access to my books I was delighted to learn it was a Great Egret. My books also told me that although usually a bird of the southern United States it does come this far north in the summer and, in fact, occasionally breeds in Canada.

This beautiful bird stayed on the pond for two days and was seen and photographed by many people. Luckily one of my neighbours, an excellent photographer, saw it and took some wonderful photos. I am very pleased that he has allowed me to include one with this column. Even though it is a rare sight and it stayed for two days, when on the third day I didn’t see it I couldn’t help but be disappointed. Are we never satisfied?!

But don’t be put off getting out just because you think you might not see something rare or unusual. There is so much of beauty to see and experience at this time of year. Just this morning I was walking along the boardwalk from the Old Millbrook School to Medd’s Mountain Park and I was struck by the number of flowers and the amount of colour there this year. Joe-Pye-Weed, goldenrods and jewelweed or touch-me-nots are brightening the area. And the leaves of the red osier dogwood are turning a handsome maroon. Do make the effort to see it. You will be pleased.

Whether or not the circle of the seasons begins at this time of year in your opinion, you must admit it is a beautiful time of year.  Many birds are migrating through and this migration continues well into the fall. And as I’ve written there are many handsome flowers to see and admire. Nature is at your doorstep. Get out! And enjoy!

By Glen Spurrell

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