The morning of August 15 was cooler in the Helderbergs than it had been in months, only in the mid-50s by 10 a.m.
Bees at Newt Pond clung to the goldenrod, languid movie stars on incandescent chaise lounges. After the drama of previous weeks’ nectar gathering and pollen dispersing, they barely crawled around: aware they had scenes to perform, but disinclined to rise just yet.
It was The Day of Slow-Moving Bees.
A beaten down path through thigh-high wild bergamot and Queen Anne’s Lace led us to the dock on Tubbs Pond. My hiking partner and I were slow-moving bees ourselves, as we drove from pond to pond instead of walking, only gradually warming our muscles. The yellowing of trees across the water became obvious as we sat with tuna sandwiches, garden tomatoes, and a huge tub of cut up watermelon to energize for a trek into the woods.
It is of course the season to gorge on watermelon and tomatoes—and blueberries and corn on the cob and peaches, until we are sick of them and welcome apples and squash and cabbage.
Full summer now slides into September. The angle of sunlight is shifting again. On some days, like this one, air blows up cool from the ground while our scalps still bead with sweat.
By afternoon, the bees had thrown off their weariness and the back leg pollen baskets plumped like egg yolks. They zipped around like heavily caffeinated actors, investigated each flower briskly and flew off faster than I could focus my camera.
As we hiked after lunch, we gathered our own nectar for winter, visions and experiences.
Thus that Friday also became known as The Day of Glorious Pink Joe-Pye-Weed and Glowing Blue Chicory.
The Day of Burdock Opening Its Deep Purple Thistles.
The Day of Orange Slugs on Moss.
The Day of White, Violet, Black, Brown, Orange, Yellow and Turquoise Fungus.
And The Day of Finding Variously Colored Aspen Leaves Every Few Feet.
Back in April, I mourned the coming of summer, the loss of bug-free walks and crunch of snow.
Here in August, I mourn the coming of jackets and long underwear, the loss of flowers and bees and green-green lushness.
However, the new season’s gifts will reveal themselves: leaves that burn then drop, an opening of the view when trees have slimmed to only trunks and limbs, crinkles of frost on chilly mornings.
Eventually I’ll mourn the fall passing, then the winter, and next spring.
For now, the theatrical bees know their lines, how the plot develops—this is the falling action. Autumn approaches. Steady drumbeats toward the denouement. No wonder the aspen leaves, the changed light, the final frenzied putting up of nectar.