In late August, our nights have grown very cool and our early mornings forecast the melancholy of autumn to me. This morning, I was outside before the sun came up intending to say my morning office outside, in the dawn. I never said the office.
Instead, I listened. And couldn’t stop listening to this tiny corner of God’s creation wake up.
The distinct Morse code like chirping of the 10-15 hummingbirds who come to drink the nectar of the flowers and the nectar in the 4 feeders throughout the landscaped section of our front yard welcomed me. These tiny creatures with their arabesque flights were the only sound in the silent world of the high desert for the first 20 minutes while I watched the sun slowly warm the air. They hover right in front of me now and then as if to share in the joy of our sharing the same air, the same life. Most of them will die within their first year of life; they seem unconcerned.
And then, as if in an intentional order, appeared the sparrows, followed by other birds I recognized but could not name. When the sun was completely up came the Pinion Jays, loud raucous birds flying in flocks of 30-40. Their cries were a cacophony until their leader directed them back up to the mountains and silence reigned once again.
The Orioles have gone- even the adolescents who were more numerous this year than I have ever seen, acting very like the bird equivalent of teenagers with their comical positions at the Oriole feeders, standing upside down and sideways, their antics extremely entertaining. I picture them winging their way along the thousand mile or more to their winter quarters in southern Mexico. I miss them and feel the melancholy of autumn- they’ll not return until late March or April.
The roses look as they did this spring; stunning colors, awakened from their torpor of the July and early August heat- splendid in the profusion of blooms, seemingly unconscious of the fact that they will last only a day or two; unconscious of the meaning of this new cool weather- the melancholy of autumn forecasting winter.
I wish I could be like the roses and the hummingbirds; unconscious of the passage of time; of the melancholy of autumn.