Monday, September 21, 2009

`The Sudden Migration of Greenness'

“Hey, Dad! I found a dead, intact dragonfly!”

The operative word in my 9-year-old’s exclamation was “intact.” We see insect parts all the time – butterfly wings, beetle husks -- and ignore them. This specimen looks like jewelry, still shimmering with dew and life, wings spread flat as though already mounted and pinned. Michael found it on the grass in the front yard, beside a brown mushroom, and of course wanted to keep him. We stowed the perfect form in a plastic sandwich bag and Michael has resolved to watch the course of decomposition.

We feel an urgency about staying outdoors, enjoying the sunshine while it lasts. The leaves on the big-leaf maple are turning yellow. Geese flew in a ragged V-formation over the neighborhood. In a park Sunday morning I found a perfect red maple leaf on the sidewalk and pressed it in the book I was reading while the kids played: Elegy for the Departure by Zbigniew Herbert (translated by John and Bogdana Carpenter). In “Farewell” he writes:

“The moment has come we have to say farewell
after the migration of birds the sudden migration of greenness
the end of summer – a banal subject for solo guitar”

Not so banal, though. Wistful, yes. A time for counting blessings, assessing one’s preparedness, repenting, waiting for winter. Thoreau writes in the Sunday section of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers:

“Happy we who can bask in this warm September sun, which illumines all creatures, as well when they rest as when they toil, not without a feeling of gratitude…”

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