Monday, June 4, 2012

The emerald woods of June

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.”

I know Robert Frost was referring to the winter woods when he wrote this; in the same poem he refers to those woods “filling up with snow.” But I keep thinking of those words this month, as I gaze into the lovely, dark and deep woods just behind my house.

Earlier in the spring we were in a drought, but since then we’ve had plenty of nourishing rainfall, interspersed with warm sunny days: perfect growing weather. My father and the other farmers in town have already done their first hay cutting, but the cows look like hay is the farthest thing from their minds right now, with all the thick green grass to graze upon in their pastures.

At my house, though, the view is of woods, not pastures, and it looks like a rainforest around here this month. The leaves on the oak, elm and maple trees are lush and emerald, almost blocking out the sunlight so that the forest floor is dark. The trails I walk on are swathed with fern fronds and moss. It’s as if a brilliant green haze has suffused from the tops of the trees down to the ground.

And it’s not only the leaves and grasses and shrubs that make the forest seem so lush right now. Birds tweet all day long; owls hoot at night and sometimes in the afternoon as well. (Since moving to this house by the woods, I’ve been surprised to hear owls at all times of day. Was I wrong to think they were strictly nocturnal?) Peepers and bullfrogs call from the ponds. Yesterday I saw a small but very furry fox trot across our lawn. Turtles of many sizes cross the roadway near streams, and last week I spotted a hummingbird near the kitchen window.

Other wildlife is less present in this weather, which is in its own way a sign of the abundance of this growing season. The deer we usually see at the edge of the driveway have been absent lately, indicating that they’re finding enough food in the forest not to venture so close to the house. And it’s been a while since I’ve heard coyotes at night, a normal sound all throughout the winter.

Insects abound in the moist warm air of June as well: butterflies and dragonflies, but also ticks and mosquitoes. Sleeping with the windows open means putting up with gnats, tiny enough to infiltrate the screens, in the bedroom.

It’s a beautiful time of year, full of birdsongs and the fragrance of flower blossoms as well as grass that grows faster than we can keep it mowed and weeds that need to be yanked from the herb garden almost daily. The woods are indeed lovely, dark and deep – with growth, in this case, rather than with snow. June is in full bloom, and the rich dank warm air beckons me to get outside and breathe it all in before the season changes yet again.

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