Yesterday evening, nearing twilight, thinking that the hot pavement would have cooled down, I decided to walk with our dogs to the end of the road – just a short walk after a late dinner.
I could glimpse a few patches of a vivid pink glow of sunset through the trees. The end of the road would afford an unobstructed view.
As we neared a neighbor’s wooded out-lot the distinctive aroma of pine welcomed us – perfuming the still air. Lovely. Such a pleasant, fresh gift to the senses.
Arriving at the end of the road, darkness approaching, quiet rustling and chirping coming from the woods to the south and to the east, a deep pink and salmon colored glow lay across the western horizon. Mesmerizing shades of periwinkle, sapphire, and indigo hung above. I stood watching as the colors blended and changed – my hands full of dog leashes and without my camera or my phone – I let the feel of it soak into my vision and into my mind. Even the dogs seemed content to just stand there.
After some minutes, the silhouettes of a neighbor and her two large protective dogs appeared at the top of a little rise in the road, and so we turned and headed back for home, feeling full of awe and contentment.
As we headed north, a mockingbird began her twilight soundtrack amidst the trees back along the creek. As the dogs went to sniff along the ditch-line another odor appeared – an unpleasant one – the acrid chemical smell of brush killer. As I tugged the dogs back from the ditch, in the fading light I could just barely make out the color of dead, brown, undergrowth among the trees separating two neighboring properties.
“How sad”, I thought.
Sad for all the Life there in that life-sustaining and sheltering undergrowth.
Sad for the beneficial insects & their eggs, larvae, & pupa that they work all of their short lives to create – for the next cycle of life.
Sad for the toads, lizards, turtles & snakes who depend on the undergrowth for food, shelter, dewdrops, and life-sustaining moisture to keep their bodies hydrated.
Sad for the birds who depend on the undergrowth for their nesting and for food for them and their babies.
Sad for the soil and the trees, for now there is nothing to hold the top soil in place.
Sad for the creek at the bottom of the property – for the rain that came last night surely washed chemical residue into that beautiful little source of life-sustaining water. And, with the heavy rains of autumn and winter, the loose topsoil will wash down that slope, and sediment will clog and slow the flow.
Sad for our property – adjacent and downstream.
Sad for the municipal drinking water reservoir, also downstream, for without a doubt, there are many other lots & woods & fields awash in the same chemicals between here and there.
Sad for all the wildlife who may have come into contact with, or eaten something that had been doused with those chemicals, for who knows what the effects truly are.
And, least important of all, sad for myself, because I cannot understand the need for all of the chemicals that our species spreads upon the Earth.
About 10:00 p.m. I filled up my mason jar with 24 oz. of ice water and headed out to the porch. It was very warm there, even at that late hour, for the heat of the day had not dissipated. The late summer night air was thick, humid, full of the songs of the summer chorus – crickets, toads, the occasional rasp of a katydid. I rested my head back against the sofa cushions and I must have dozed off. I suppose I might have snoozed for about 45 minutes when I became aware of being uncomfortably warm – HOT! I opened my eyes and reached for the mason jar, thinking I would retreat back in to the air-conditioned house.
Just then, a gentle puff of breeze floated through the windows, followed by a stronger rush of cooler air. With it, the sweet, delicate scent of some summer bloom. And then, that indescribably lovely aroma of freshly mown high grasses and wild plants – plants that I used to call weeds. The gentle ping of raindrops on metal roofs floated in through the south windows. And then, with the next rush of cooler air – the smell of rain.
The porch door opened and my husband, peeking out into the darkness, reported “The weatherman says it’s supposed to rain tonight”. Replying back, out of the darkness, “I know. And it is”.
This morning, a little walk-about, down near the creek that winds through our property, revealed the source of that sweet, delicate scent traveling on last night’s breeze. Festoons of gorgeous, fragrant white flowers have burst into bloom, attracting a whole host of bees, wasps, and butterflies (none of which wanted to pose for my photos)!
Apparently, the vine is happily thriving with additional sunlight in places previously occupied by old trees that were lost in last year’s hurricanes. It is trailing along the old chicken yard fence and blanketing understory growth in sunnier spots at the top of the streambank.
A web search for “late summer blooming vine with white flowers” produced photos identical to the images in this post. I learned that this stunning late summer beauty is named Clematis virginiana. It is a native plant here in the southeastern United States. And I can see that the timing of its blooming is providing late summer food to many insects. How lovely would it be if I can encourage it to grow up and over a rustic pergola along with native Trumpet Creeper?!
Seems this beautiful Clematis virginiana is also known by nicknames such as Devil’s Darning Needles, Virgin’s Bower, and Old Man’s Beard. Whatever its nicknames, I’ll call it a Healing Balm from Mother Nature, for its scent came to me last night and helped to sooth my profound sadness. This morning, after seeking out the source of that soothing scent, and becoming acquainted, my mood has improved and I am, once again, amazed by Nature’s amazing Superpower!
I’ll do all that I can to help, on my little patch of land, in my no-spray zone, where the life-sustaining undergrowth is living and growing and blooming……..and healing.