Summer Moving on…

Gone to seed

We see clear signs the summer is coming ’round to an end. Weather is still warm and bright, but suddenly it is no longer light when the alarm goes off in the morning.

I found this in our woods. It’s a fragment of what had been a fairly large paper wasp nest.

Wasp paper fragment

Here’s a view of the interior, the living quarters.

Inside the nest

Someone was bold enough to knock it from its location in the treetops, probably to harvest the larvae in the nest. You can be sure it was not me! I happily engage honeybees. Vespids are another story.

These were probably Bald-faced hornets:

Dolichovespula maculata

This is not my magnificent photo. It comes from the Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of  PiccoloNamek. The Bald-faced hornet is not as fierce as she looks — I’ve encountered them many times with no sense of aggression from them. That doesn’t mean you want to walk up and mess with their nest in late summer! They will protect their home with every intention to drive you away.

The Yellow-jackets, on the other hand, have been fierce these late summer days. The other morning one of the men on the construction crew came hurtling up the slope, swatting and cursing. He’d found a nest under a pile of pipe and neither he nor the Yellow-jackets were one bit happy about it. He called them ‘bees,’ and I was stern in my insistence that those were not bees; they were wasps. He didn’t seem to appreciate the distinction. Bees take the rap for Yellow-jackets all the time.

Meanwhile, the gone-wild crab apples are hanging thick on their branches in waste areas.

Wild crabs in season

Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) are molting their flight feathers, one by one. It must affect the rise and soar of the birds, but they stay up there anyway. I’ve seen several of them recently with serious gaps in their wings and tails, and a generous shedding of feathers onto the ground. These are big feathers — a foot or more in length.

A cast feather

Empty husks are appearing in the woods, a sign someone has been squirreling away nuts.

Hazelnut husk

Crickets have begun to sing.

And the woods overall have a scent of rich balsam. The orchard has begun to exhale that perfume of slightly fermented, nearly rotting windfall fruit in the grass.

Everything is sighing at the end of the season, casting its seed, gathering itself for winter.

Here’s something new from WordPress: audio files embedded in the post. Click the Go arrow, and listen to Summertime while there is still summer in the season.

Published in: on September 4, 2009 at 3:54 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Trade you swan feathers for turkey vulture feathers! (They’re more than 1′ long, too).

    Swans! How lovely! (I suppose, when you come to it, swans are as mite-infested as vultures, but much more poetically.) Alas, I’m pretty sure international transport of vulture feathers is some kind of offense. In fact, you’re not even supposed to collect them. Not sure why, as the vultures seem to be doing quite well…


  2. Good morning, Susan,

    I’ve noticed the light, or lack of it, as well, mornings. Each morning, I’m trying to sleep (or stay in bed) another few minutes in an attempt to be able to stave off walking Lizzie in the dark, and feeding animals in the half-light. I figure if I move ahead 3 minutes a day…but it seems each day, it is still demi-light when I get up…the earth is keeping up with my delays with a later sunrise each day.

    Yellow jackets are fierce, for sure. And, boy, do I puff up if I get a sting. Fortunately, it hasn’t happened often.

    The other sign that summer is going is that the pigs are getting huge, due to go this week. The meat birds are growing like weeds. (I wonder if eventually, the idiom will change to “the weeds are growing like meat birds”…it’s time they were out on pasture proper so they can search for bugs and eat greenery. This week sometime…They are in the tractor but not allowed out of it yet. It is 10 x 10, so they have plenty of room…I guess I’ll wait another week until they don’t need the light anymore, which will make it much easier to move the tractor.

    The lambs are growing and almost ready for the freezer as well. It’s been a bad year for breeding stock. I guess people are feeling the pinch…

    The weather here has been lovely…70’s by day, 40’s and low 50’s by night…my kind of weather. Enjoy the rest of this last weekend, unofficially, of summer…in N.J. it signals back to school next week. Up here in Vermont, they went back a week or more ago…gotta’ allow for those snow days, I guess.

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