After almost a month on no new sightings, some of my summer favorites have finally returned. Yesterday afternoon I had another a northern water snake in my backyard. At first I thought it might be a grackle feather that had landed quill-down and was sticking up in the lawn, but it seemed too thick for a feather. Plus there was a curious bright gleam of sunlight on the very top. In the time it took to grab my flip-flops, I looked back and it had disappeared. But there wasn’t a breath of wind to blow a feather away… Then I saw movement along the parapet at the breakwall, just in time to see the snake glide through the drainage hole. It must have been raised up like a mini-cobra to have a look around when I mistook it for a feather!
On a cool day late last summer, I had a water snake come right up to the house and warm itself on the concrete. I grabbed the camera, and took the best picture I could from the screened porch. I knew if I went out, the snake would take off too fast for a shot. And besides, I didn’t want to scare it away in case it might be looking for a place to hibernate close by (and then visit again this year). Of course I’ll never know if it was the same snake, but I like to think so.
Finally, a couple of nights ago, one lone cricket started up. It’s not exactly the Greek chorus I expected to hear, but I love the sound, so any voice is welcome. Maybe things will pick up soon. Then last night I saw a few fireflies. What a treat to be lying in bed in the dark and see a speck of cool green fire strobe by; makes the hot sticky weather worth it. But as wonderful as it is to see them, and hear the crickets, and see the snake, that’s really all the company (not counting people) I’ve had. Last year I had raccoons regularly shuffling around on the roof, a couple of little cottontails that came to nibble dandelions every morning and evening, and one quiet Saturday morning an opossum crossed the yard with one baby clinging to her back. But no such luck this year, at least not when I was looking. Even the butterflies are fewer this year. I saw one Mourning Cloak early on, and now a few Monarchs and Cabbage Whites, but no Admirals, no Painted Ladies, no Swallowtails. I’m hoping that in August we might hear a cicada or two. The 17-year variety had their big bash a few years ago, but there’s usually a couple every summer.
One other neighbor I haven’t heard from yet is the green frog. I hope he (?) comes. Last year, we had quite a conversation. He sang his low-pitched “thum thum” from the ditch and I stood in the road and answered by plucking a thick rubber band stretched between my thumb and index finger. Maybe we need a good rain to freshen things up for him; we’ve been having another dry spell.
All this absence makes me worry a little. The earth and the weather both seem so strange and unpredictable these days. Is this empty summer simply the normal fluctuations in populations, or something more sinister? Who can say? All I know is, even with plenty of people around, barbecues and fireworks, and lots of boats going by, it still feels kind of lonely here on the Lake!
The Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta) is a lyric poem by the respected Indian poet, Kālidāsa. The poem centers around a yaksa in exile. Longing for his beloved, waiting for him on a Himalayan mountain, he asks a cloud to take a message to her. The sights he tells the cloud it will see on its way make up most of the poem.
The idea of recording observations appeals to me. I thought The Cloud Messenger was the perfect title for a blog about the journey that we all make as we move through our days.
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.