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The Mast-Head: Quiet of September

Thu, 09/21/2023 - 05:49

Sorting the letters to the editor this week not long after the sun appeared in the east, I looked up from my computer and gazed through the window at the marsh across the road. At that instant, a hint of movement caught my eye on an otherwise still morning and I felt a strong pull to go outside. Fine days following a rain are like that.

I could not tell if any sort of creature had appeared and then disappeared. “Might have imagined it,” I thought. It was too early in the year for the hawk migrations to begin in earnest. Perhaps it had been one of the crows that nest in the pines nearby or a heron. I watched; the tips of the tall grasses swayed slightly in a light wind. A few cormorants, “shag,” my father called them, passed left to right, headed to the harbor to spend the day eating fish.

My father told me that birds would go quiet when a bad storm was approaching. Though Hurricane Lee was hundreds of miles offshore by then and headed to Nova Scotia, nature might have sensed it and hunkered down.

September at summer’s end feels as if the world is in a kind of abeyance. It is as if all of life is readying itself for its inevitable changes colder weather brings. No more do we hear the sound of exuberant birds of the spring. The smell of the marsh seems less intense. The seedheads on the roadside native grasses turn brown. A few Canada geese fly past. The sun stays low, the shadows longer.

I spent a great deal of last fall and winter making plans for my garden. Two envelopes of seed not planted wait in the refrigerator for next spring. Seaweed blows ashore and I gather it up to carry to the compost pile. It will be ready by April for sure — and so will I.


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