These are the days of the doldrums for me.
The forest is hot and tired from the late summer heat. Most of the scrubby plants are looking weary and defeated — their leaves drooping, browned at the edges, eaten or blighted. We seldom see deer, though we could always count on startling a few when we arrived on spring visits. Turkeys are rarer too. Most of the forest birds are silent now. Only the woodpeckers and the crows are making calls. Even the horseflies seem too stupefied to do more than circle us.
The turkey vultures laze in the sky above. Maybe this is their season, when all of the effort of staying alive begins to wane in the other animals. Several mature trees that leafed out green in the spring have died on the south-facing slope.
My Roundrock spirit is similarly tired. As spring vigorously progressed, all of our efforts at clearing trails and keeping the road open showed how ephemeral our work is in the face of the natural order of things. The shelter tarp sags in the heat. The lake diminishes visibly between each visit. The trees we planted with such hope and enthusiasm have suffered and many have died. A hike of even the shortest distance through the trees gets reconsidered. Yet even the nature that defeated us in the spring is looking close to defeat itself at the end of the summer.
So now we are in the browning time, when the luxuriant growth we couldn’t keep in check before shows its own exhaustion. Many leaves will brown and drop before they have the chance to try on their fall colors.
But, of course, the wheel continues to turn. Milder weather will arrive eventually. Most of the forest will bounce back with its vivid displays. Late season flowers will come forth.
And not too long from now, winter will arrive. The forest will be stark and open — the only green being the cedar trees scattered here and there.
Our spirits will turn, too. What looked impossible or futile in the face of summer growth and summer drought will seem possible and worthwhile. Ideas will bloom in the winter. Plans will be laid. Ambitions will restore themselves. Work will be done because it makes us warm, not left undone because we are too warm. With nature at bay, we talking mammals will get the notion again that we can have some influence in the forest. And so it will continue.