I grew up listening to my grandmother read me stories from the wonderful series by *Thorton W. Burgess. His animal stories, featuring Happy Jack Squirrel, Jimmy Skunk, Grandfather Frog, Jerry Muskrat, Sammy Jay, Old Mother West Wind and her Merry Little Breezes (to name a few), and so many more wonderful characters, became my friends.
I loved the sound of my grandmother’s voice, and when I learned how to read, I didn’t want to tell her because I wanted her to keep on reading to me.
As I walked around the pond last evening, I felt my grandmother’s spirit with me; as I always do when I walk the pond. She taught me so much about animals and their habits, and because of that I always felt a kinship with nature.
At this time of year, the pond still attracts ducks, geese, blue herons and the rare bald eagle. By now the turtles and fish are getting ready to hunker down in the mud to sleep through winter. The red-winged black birds, who love to nest in the reeds at the edges of the pond, are long gone now. Their nests are abandoned, and their chicks have flown.
As if to show off before the cold weather comes, the edges of the pond are resplendent with color. There is the sage and gold of the reeds in the water, the gorgeous red rose hips, purple larkspur, yellow “Indian paint brushes,” saffron goldenrod, creamy white rambler roses, purple clover, lacy white parasols of Queen Anne’s Lace, and what I call “blush bush” along the path. It’s just a type of grass; when you pick one stem, it doesn’t look pink, but in a cluster they are a beautiful pinky-purple cloud.
The orange jewel weed is out in full flower, and the celadon green milkweed pods are getting ready to turn brown, and crack open, revealing silky white fluff that drifts on the wind, a tiny brown seed clinging to each tuft.
It is a wistful time of year; summer is on the wane, and you can feel a shift in the air. Fall weather is coming, bringing cool breezes during the day and cold ones at night. The leaves are just beginning to turn, and soon the swamp maples will be fire-engine red. It’s a bittersweet time, but each season brings its own beauty to the table.
For now, I’m enjoying the change of seasons, and I wish my dear old friends (especially Jimmy Skunk and Happy Jack Squirrel) the best of all weathers.
*From Wikipedia: Burgess used his outdoor observations of nature as plots for his stories. In Burgess’ first book, Old Mother West Wind (1910), the reader meets many of the characters found in later books and stories. The characters in the Old Mother West Wind series include Peter Rabbit (known briefly as Peter Cottontail), Jimmy Skunk, Sammy Jay, Bobby Raccoon, Little Joe Otter, Grandfather Frog, Billy Mink, Jerry Muskrat, Spotty the Turtle, Old Mother West Wind, and her Merry Little Breezes.