Even with the extreme heat, August is a “turn toward Autumn”. Natalie Babbitt’s intriguing and compelling story, Tuck Everlasting, begins “The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, like the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”
Although Iowa’s first two weeks in August 2013 were unusually cool, certainly July and the last two weeks of August fit this description well.
Days grow noticeably shorter. Nights release their sequestered heat all in a rush about two a.m. Humidity soars. One can almost see pollen hanging on water droplets, and can certainly feel it. Breathing is hard. Winter constellations appear in the pre-dawn Eastern sky. While domestic plants and trees give up their vibrancy, shedding petals and leaves,
prairie grasses fairly burst with enthusiasm.
In a day the tawny plumes of Indian Grass appear almost magically and wave happily at the rising sun. Late developing Black-eyed Susans suddenly appear adding a splash of joyful yellow to the deep green grasses.
And, the complex structure of prairie plants is so compelling, I understand how lovers of these vast sun drenched communities can spend lifetimes studying. Not that I want to sit patiently to observe and record data, or wade through the ocean of grasses and forbs but, I “get it.”
People are like plant communities. Some are always exuberant, bold, and domineering. Some shy and retiring, preferring the shade and less competition. Most in between. But, subtle differences often determine where both plants and people choose to live. Then, too, sometimes plants and people just find themselves where they are and so either adapt or not.
Well, this is enough for now.