An ancient pine tree, broken, on Unity Pond shore in June. Photo courtesy of Dana Wilde

For nine more days or so, the sun will keep climbing higher and higher before its time comes to resume its slow descent. That’s the good news.

More good news is that the Japanese honeysuckle along the walking track in the Unity park is in full bloom already, a week or two early I think. Just as the park has reopened, what purposeful timing. Lilacs late in our dooryard bloomed, but lupines are out already, before their usual season. Dandelions used to pop exactly May 1 here, but recent years, like this one, they’re up 10 days late. Now they’re going comfortably to seed.

Sprays of bluets and violets in the grass are still left over from May, and now the white wild strawberry blossoms. Starflowers in the moss beneath the firs. Hiding by a fence post I found a clot of bird’s eye speedwell, a blue so deep and sweet you could just about cry, remembering Edgar Allan Poe said the highest manifestation of beauty in the human world is sadness. Don’t ask me how this could be, there’s a time to every purpose.

Buttercups are up, and hawkweed, droves of yellow rocket in fields like a harbinger of goldenrod. (Goldenrod! Just another month or so.) Along the Belfast Rail Trail we spotted yellow goatsbeard with its pointed sepals, and phlox escapees, white, purple, rose-colored. Clover, white and purple. Red osier dogwood blossoms like white brooches, abundant this year. White pine candles in the wind, greeny white.

This morning the little Bebb willow outside the bathroom window started launching anemochorous fluff onto a very lilting breeze; little seed-puffs floating like ghosts. It always surprises me how soon the inflorescences of grass go to seed; I guess it works, because it happens every year.

The number of broken trees and branches from the weather beat-downs we took in April and May is startling. The huge white pine that grew for 150, 200 years, by the lakeshore at the park broke in half. The top now lies on its side across the so-called beach. In our woods, so many smaller, younger birches, maples and ashes went down that I got a chain saw to try to reclaim some of it for emergency firewood purposes. A time to build up, a time to break down.

Phoebes flit, perch, wag, fee-bee all around the dooryard, which as far as they know they own, along with the nest up under the sill of the garage. In the woods the blue jays squall, crows call, chickadees whee, woodpeckers thwack. Robins rocking. A red-winged blackbird in the bog. A barred owl at night, its time to speak. Young hawks circling up above and keeping silence.

A six-spotted orbweaver dangling on its thread in the Unity park on June 3. Photo courtesy of Dana Wilde

And silent are the thin-legged wolf spiders darting around the garden, the leaf litter and driveway gravel. A six-spotted orbweaver, orange-seeming, dangling by a thread from ash leaves over the park track. Inside the house, hackledmesh weavers have commandeered the kitchen sink and counter, where there must be a lot of tiny six-legged varmints — strays from the clouds of gnats out the window? — to catch in their floxy webbing.

The black flies were copious despite a couple of night-freezes in May, and now is the time of the mosquito assassins. Thick. Wicked. A tick got in the cat’s thick orange fur and swelled up to the size of a pea. A time to kill, the cat’s time to heal.

Are we actually seeing more bees in the blossoms this year, or is it just our hopeful imagination? Will there be more dragonflies this year than last? And when will old-guy basketball season resume?

There have already been several days of oppressive heat and humidity, not the norm for this time of June, but who knows how this works. After what seemed like about three-and-a-half years of gloom, the sunlit glittering blue snapped back. Every kind of suffering and joy seems upon us here in early summer, 2020. A time to gain, a time to lose. A time for love, a time for hate. A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.

 

Dana Wilde lives in Troy. You can contact him at [email protected]. His book “A Backyard Book of Spiders in Maine” is available this summer from North Country Press. Backyard Naturalist appears the second and fourth Thursdays each month.


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