firefly moon (part 1)
STEP RIGHT UP! - Step right up, folks, to Father Sky and Mother Earth’s Magical, Mystical, Midsummer Madness! See the Night-sky shimmer with Light and Life! Feel the heat and humidity smack you in your face with the very Force of Life itself! Watch Earth and Sky in their yearly Dance - teeming with multitudinous life-forms! Make Hay while the Sun Shines! Hurry, hurry, hurry! (Sounds like Summer to me.)
MAKING HAY - What a great old saying: “make hay while the sun shines”. How appropriate for this season. It seems that everyone is continually overtired from trying - almost manically - to do EVERYTHING, which is very natural when we have so much light. This is probably so with many creatures. I know numerous species of birds are on their second brood of young now. The Hawks are probably sleeping well after a long day of watching the youngsters fledge. So many animal parents are probably going through this at this point. The Great Blue Herons are and will be back soon. Also, arriving shortly will be the gorgeous Great Egrets.
HIGH-TIDE OF LIFE - WHERE EARTH MEETS SKY - There is no place more mystical on a Mid- Summer’s Eve than our beautiful Comeau, with Guardian and Overlook in the full-moon - and star-lit - distance - with the intervening distance crammed with life. Heat-lightning shimmers and Fireflies flicker to a chorus of Cicadas, Crickets, Katydids and Tree-frogs. Accompanying the aural and visual feast of this magical time is the raw sensuality of wading through the thick, superheated air. At this season one can feel the sky pressing down as the earth rises to meet it. To my Pagan self, it is as if the Earth is giving birth and the Sky is leaning closer, attending to Her. If Mid-Winter is the time of dormant life and inner reflection, when the tide of Life is at its ebb, this must be the peak of the Season of Life, our seasonal high-tide - when the Earth meets the Sky.
A VERITABLE LIFE-STORM - We are past mid-summer now, the days are shorter as the season inexorably turns. In our corner of the Catskills, in terms of burgeoning life-forms, this is a rich, rich time of year - a veritable Life-Storm. We are literally surrounded by the fruitfulness of the season. The heavy, humid air we wade through is thick with insect-life (though not as thick with them as it used to be), including mosquitos now, nurtured by recent rains. So far, only the Cricket part of our yearly “Cricket Chorus” is present, with the Seasonal Cicadas and Katydids (hopefully) soon to join in. The fireflies are off to a good start, activity waxing and waning with ups and downs of the dew-point (an indicator of humidity-levels). Every species of animal is busily reproducing their kind and raising their young. Myriad trees and other plants are simultaneously racing for the sun, sending out new green shoots, making seeds and sending new roots down deep. The very topsoil under our feet is seething with countless forms of life - animal, insect and microbe. New little Bambis are ecstatically gamboling about, completely unable to contain their excitement about being alive (a lesson for us all?). Bear-cubs are growing fast, learning from Mom about the ursine world, but occasionally running afoul of automobiles and older bears. Wild Turkeys may have started their season with a dozen or more poults, as their young are called, but by now are down to about half that many, mostly because of Coyotes and Hawks. Same with Mallard young, due to Eagles and Snapping Turtles. It’s a tough reality for wild creatures that sometimes we don’t want to admit to. We love to idealize the natural world, but Nature is not about to be idealized so easily. Even experienced, lifelong outdoorsmen like myself fall into the trap of loving these wonderful creatures, setting ourselves up for a fall. But how can we not?
MEADOWS AND FIELDS FLOWERING - Most of the flowering has now switched solidly from forest to meadow and field. Present now in our open spaces are: Beebalm; Buttercups, regular and Long-stem; Clovers, Red- and White- ; Goldenrods (not an allergen); Ragweed (the real allergy-culprit); Wild Blackberries and -Raspberries; Queen Anne’s Lace, and many others - most notably, Milkweed. Also, in the verges between forest and field is where we find Poison Ivy, which is sometimes accompanied by Jewelweed nearby (a natural antidote to PI). PI is so wildly proliferating right now because of Climate Change, since it thrives on carbon in the atmosphere. So much so that it is the first native plant officially designated as an Invasive. While our meadows right now are home to so many butterflies and moths: Black- and Tiger Swallowtails; Brushfoots; Dusky- wings; Fritillaries (commonly mistaken for Monarchs); Hairstreaks (great name!); Hop Merchants; Metalmarks; Mourning Cloaks; Nymphs; Questionmarks (but why?); Satyrs; Skippers; Snouts; Spring Azures; Sulphurs; Viceroys and Whites - yet the reigning kings and queens of them all - the Monarchs - have only arrived in limited numbers. Hopefully, more are on the way (see www.journeynorth.org). In the winter, as they huddle en masse on Oyumel fir-trees in the cool mountains of Michoacan, do Monarchs dream of our Milkweed-rich sunny leas? Their intertwined, symbiotic dependence on - and with - Milkweed should teach us about our interdependence on the varied elements of the world around us.
THINGS TO DO - Please visit the tremendous Catskills Visitor Center (CVC) on Rt. 28 in Mt. Tremper (catskillsvisitorcenter.org). It is the best place to introduce newcomers to our wonderful area, with interesting educational, high-tech displays and a full-scale firetower, as well as a helpful staff that are knowledgeable about everything recreational in the region. This is a great jumping-off place for visitors to many places, including the nearby, spectacular Ashokan Rail-Trail (ART) (ashokanrailtrail.com). Also, for an excellent online source of local information I highly recommend insideandoutupstateny.com . BE EXTRA CAREFUL - This is the season of great - sometimes frenzied - outdoor activity, so please be extra careful in whatever you do. If on the trail, keep an eye peeled (what a great saying!) for exposed tree-roots, waiting for the unwary. Watch out for the stone accidentally turned up by the walker ahead of you who wasn’t paying attention.
Please have a Safe and Enjoyable Summer.
Thank you all, “Ranger” Dave Holden (845)594-4863
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