“The observation of natural history,” says Eliades Quintana,” is a simple and powerful form of meditation. In it we find that the songs of the bees, the cicadas and the crickets are no less magical than the songs of monks or the mantras of gurus. “
Here in the second-last week of middle summer, the insect chorus leads the meditation.
I listen to the bees, crickets and cicadas, and I watch the history of July unravel: yellowing locust and buckeye leaves and the browning garlic mustard, reddening Judas maples and Virginia creeper leaves, shiny spicebush, boxwood, greenbrier, and poison ivy berries forming, wild cherries darkening, Osage, buckeye and black walnut fruits heavy enough to drop in a storm.
Mallow, Asiatic lilies and day lilies disappear in the garden as white, red, and purple phlox unfold. Lizard’s tail and wood nettle go to seed along the riverbanks. Blueweed, white vervain, motherwort and white sweet clover end their seasons. Petals of the hobblebush darken. Parsnip heads, honewort pods and sweet cicely pods are dry enough to split and spill their seeds.
Late summer’s burdock and Jerusalem artichokes bloom now. Wild lettuce opens at nine o’clock in the morning facing the sun, closes by noon. Tall blue bellflowers, pale violet bouncing bets, golden coneflowers and pink germander color the waysides. Water hemlock, Joe Pye weed and arrowhead blossom in the swamps. Round galls swell on the goldenrod.