Splendour in the Grass

Poetry often captures truths better than prose. The poet Wordsworth had a wonderful eye for nature: “…of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower…” is one of those good bits. The heavy dews and frosts along with plentiful spider webs bespangled with dew or frost certainly reveal that splendour. This autumn has definitely started as a real wet one. The first full day of heavy rains filled my rain gauge to just over 100mm! For those of you still used to the old money that’s 4 inches! So that splendour has been rather diminished. Nevertheless keep your eyes open for it.

The heavy rains are sending masses of water over the millpond dam. The thundering this produces is quite impressive! The new design doesn’t give quite the same thrill as the old dam; at the top it’s more like an infinity pool overflowing but at the base and corners the white water reveals the massive flow. As an aside, between the mill and the creek a new 4-sided information station has been erected by ORCA and the historical society. Painted to look like the mill it features information panels about historical mills, the millpond and nature. Do drop by to see it.

Staying on the subject of the millpond for another moment, many of us observers have had many days of watching a Great Egret fishing in the pond. This large white bird is very similar to the more common Great Blue Heron but for some reason looks ever so  much more elegant. One day there were a pair to be seen. Another day I saw an egret and a heron fishing only a meter apart. And another day an egret was totally unperturbed as an osprey plummeted into the pond just steps away from it. A moment earlier or later and I would have missed this thrilling sight!

And these birds make me think of the migration which is well underway. So often we think of the fall migration as birds flying south. But we should remember that some birds will leave us for points further south; some birds will be passing through on their way south; while other birds from more northerly places migrate south only this far and stay for the winter. The juncos are the easiest example of this last group and they have just returned. This is rather earlier than usual.

Already some trees have turned colour and are beginning to drop their leaves. The copper and purple tones of the ashes, the first trees to colour and lose their leaves, are at their height. Because the Emerald Ash Borer is destroying so many of these beautiful and important trees, we have no idea how many more years their unique fall colour will be here to admire. As for other fall colour–yes, there is splendour in the leaf as well–we never know. The rather dry summer and now the very wet, dull weather may well reduce the show. Medd’s Mountain is a favourite of mine for colour because the green of the evergreens juxtaposed against the brilliance of maples is, to me, far more satisfying than an expanse of oranges and reds.

The first frost cannot be far off. According to my notes, we have had frost already many years. That too will affect the colour of the trees. Every day is different and there is no way to predict what you may see. There is splendour in the grass, in the flower, in the bird, and in the leaf. Get out! And enjoy!

GET OUT! by Glen Spurrell

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