The yellow school buses of September days disappear into the early morning mist and reappear in the afternoon sunlight to disgorge their cargoes of kids. The warm afternoons are still shaded by the lush green foliage of trees, but fields and meadows are a yellow sea of goldenrod interrupted only by islands of purple asters. Monarch butterflies stop to sip nectar as they begin their long migration to an isolated hilltop forest in Mexico, and wooly bear caterpillars migrate too, to a place where they will hibernate for the winter. The amount of black on their bodies does not foretell the severity of the winter, but their presence predicts its coming.
As the days pass and the trees become tinged with the colors that will dominate the landscape a month hence, I begin to notice everywhere that the porches and doorways of many homes are being adorned with the fruits of the season. Bunches of colorful Indian corn hang on painted front doors and cornstalks adorn lampposts. Baskets of gourds and varieties of squash decorate steps, stoops, and porches. As I hang a bunch of corn by my own front door, it is a sign that this is a pagan home where the ancient Gods are welcomed and venerated. This is not the case, of course, with everyone who hangs a bunch of corn on their door or parks a pumpkin on their porch, but it is a sign that more and more people every year are responding to an inner urge to celebrate the cycle of nature by gathering the fruits of the season.
As the evening skies flush with pink, the calls of wild geese are heard. Their silhouettes appear overhead and stir within me something ancient and winged. This is only a practice flight for the long migration that lies ahead, but it is a sign that the days of summer are drawing to an end.


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