It's feeling very August on the estuary now. We've had an usually dry year, with less rainfall during the winter than we usually have. The snow pack on the mountains was much less considerable than we are accustomed to. June, usually a cool and rainy month here, defied its custom and chose instead to bring hot, sunny days, and now July appears to have taken the year off and swept us straight into late summer.
The grasses in the fields are seer and dry and and the licorice ferns along the roadside are already turning yellow. Red leaves have appeared among the green foliage of the cherry trees, and the broad green hands of the western maple leaves are crumbling into rust. It's worrisome.
Yet, even as I note these changes, I see beauty and life all around me too. When I brush against the dry grass along the edges of the trail, crowds of grasshoppers leap in unison, as if the very ground were springing to life and they, in their turn, bring hungry birds who hop along beside me as they forage for their breakfast.
The dry landscape burgeons with flowers delicate in appearance but tough enough to brave poor soil and dry conditions. Every roadside is lined with sudden hedges of blue chicory. A lover of heat, it stands waist high in every patch of gravel, springs up in cracks between sidewalk and curb, decorates patches of broken pavement in busy parking lots.
Equally hardy Queen Anne's lace favours quieter spots. It flourishes along the paths at the riverside and estuary, and decorates unmown fields with white lace embroidered over the heather-mauve gauze of the grass seed heads.
Dandelions, who had their first bloom in early spring, have now matured a second generation of bright sunny flowers that cover entire hillside meadows with yellow polka dots spotted across the green.
Plumes of goldenrod are opening. They stand in crowds, grouped at intervals along the edges of roadsides and trails, their yellow-gold flower heads looking from a distance more like feather than plant.
Bright yellow tansy is blooming now too, it's flowers dry-looking as soon as they open, its tough stems holding them tall above the surrounding grasses while its roots seek deep in the ground for moisture.
At the dappled edges between field and tree, stands of bright fireweed have shot up, some taller than a man, with strong stems, willow-shaped leaves and spear shaped raecemes of magenta blooms.
Through all this colour rabbits and deer, pheasants and quail, sparrows and finches, move constantly and, overhead, eagles soar, sometimes pursued by noisy crows. Constant herons fish the shallow waters of river and bay, and solitary ravens croak from nearby trees.
It's easy to worry about what "should be," and we are all inclined to compare what is now to what is "normal," but nature goes on about her business unconcerned by any standards or comparisons small humans may impose. In her timeless rounds she is endlessly adaptive, and daily presents us with a thousand different answers to our questions and concerns. She cares not one whit whether we are there or not and, while she changes in response to us, she stitches upon a larger canvas than we - with our narrow vision and small definitions - can begin to see the edges of.
There is something soothing in that greatness. As I watch the landscape, and absorb the million shades of light and colour, as I observe the endless variations of life around me, my worries and concerns fade to insignificance and I am absorbed into the tapestry. I am part of a greater picture and, although every stitch contributes to the fabric of the whole, the whole is greater than the sum of any of its parts. The stitches may change colour or shape or form, and some may be unsewn and then made again as something new but, in nature as in life, nothing is wasted.
All things go on forever.
There is peace in that.
Have a joyful day today. Stop for a moment to draw a breath and look around you. Enjoy your view of the great tapestry, and know in your heart that your stitches contribute to it too.