The days have been getting progressively cooler, and I have found myself reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that fall is slowly creeping in. But summer is full of surprises, and just when you think it’s slipping through your fingers like sand, it comes back around for one last hurrah.
Today was in the 90s with the humidity so high, you could just about see it. I stepped out the door this morning, enveloped in a hazy heat, and for a moment, I closed my eyes and pretended that it was mid-July, with the best of summer yet to come.
I knew better than to complain about the heat (though I rarely do anyway) knowing that in a few short months, I will be pining for a day like this. Instead, I found my thoughts gravitating towards watermelon, ice cream, and swimming.
In fact, I did have ice cream and go swimming – in two different rivers no less. First I went down to the rock dam along the Connecticut River in Turners Falls. To get there, you have to cross a meadow, traverse a patch of woods, and climb down a steep embankment. Then, laid out in front of you, is paradise. A sandy beach gently slopes into the river, where a large rock formation creates a gushing waterfall of sorts. And all of this is framed by the soft green foliage of summer.
After coming back home and having dinner, I set out for the Millers River, determined to eek the maximum enjoyment out the day. The first thing I noticed when I got there was the asters and goldenrod, which are now in full swing. These are the late summer/early fall bloomers, taking the place of the Joe Pye weed and cardinal flowers, which are now withered and dried.
As always with flowers, I am sad to see each one pass, but I am equally delighted to see what blooms next. Even though I know what’s coming, it feels like unwrapping a present each time.
I walked down to my usual spot and stopped to squeeze a few jewelweed seed pods along the way. These pods, when touched or squeezed, spring open like some kind of New Year’s party favor, sending their seeds flying out to try to make their way on their own. As a kid, I used to spend hours pod-popping along creeks and streams and other wet areas where this plant likes to grow.
One of the other things I like about jewelweed is the intense orange color of the flowers – a color so vivid, you can hardly believe that it occurs naturally. Apparently, I’m not the only one that likes it. Standing there among the succulent jewelweed stems, I saw a bumblebee hovering drunkenly after having its fill of pollen.
The water felt like liquid glass – serene and cool. Goldenrod exploded on the banks like a miniature fireworks display. I swam upstream, then down, and just for good measure, jumped off the rope swing – gleefully plunging into the water below.
I pulled myself up on the bank and sat down on a rock, savoring this summer scene. A small frog hopped up alongside me. And so we sat there together, sharing this little stretch of river. No doubt, this is a favorite spot of his as well, and I felt grateful that he was willing to share it with me. My little frog friend blinked at me. I blinked back. Just two creatures sitting by the river, taking in the last bit of summer before the cold weather tells us it’s time to bury ourselves in mud… or sweaters.