Sunlight arrives later and goes away earlier, and the yard is full of crisp leaves. Sedge and other volunteer plants flourished around the Buddha all summer, concealing cats who lurked below the bird feeder and birds who searched for seeds when the cats were away. Now those plants are all dry, rustling in the wind, and providing much sparser hiding places for the furry beasts, but perhaps safer foraging ground for the birds.
Our crop of birds has also changed. A few “English sparrows” appeared over the past few weeks, fortunately not displacing the small crowds of house finches, chickadees, titmice, cardinals, and occasional bluejay that have been lunching at our bird feeder since we put it up last winter. The feeder seems to support several meal shifts, each shift dominated by a different species — like high school cafeteria cliques. The last of our loyal little band of ruby-throated hummingbirds have left town for their annual vacation on the Caribbean, but now a few pine siskins are visiting from the north, joining the usual party of goldfinches dining on Nyjer or sunflower seeds. None of these birds is excitingly rare, but each is entertaining in its own way, and many have become accustomed to eating in our presence.
A couple of weeks ago we gathered flowers along some country roads. Standing in an assortment of vases, mason jars, and pitchers, they decorated various rooms around the house, but now hang in the basement, destined to become dried flower arrangements come winter, if they don’t loose all their petals. Gathering the flowers reminded me of Mr. Cooley, my high school biology teacher, and the flowers, leaves, and insects we all had to collect, and identify. Of the flowers I collected all those years ago I remember the hedge bindweed in particular, a small, wild, white morning glory that pleased me, and still pleases me, despite its name and reputation as an invasive, although native, weed. Some bindweed vines grow in our yard, but sadly there are no flowers now. But the day before yesterday while walking around our yard I made a surprise discovery, flowers I never knew existed. Along the east side of the house appeared several clusters of what seemed to be badly confused crocuses, blooming in autumn instead of spring.
So, there really are Autumn Crocuses, and if they have arrived, surely Autumn has arrived with them.