August Heat

The artist lives precariously.

The garden? Tomato fungus, groundhog crew cuts on the beans, okra, and squash, deer beheaded asters and Joe Pye weed.

Ruby cherries turning black. This native black cherry was tasty.

The house? A dehumidifier driving up the electric bill and finally drying up the basement flood of two weeks ago. Large invading ants that died all at once and were replaced (briefly) by minute black ants. Mold growing on every surface. Piles of papers, books, ponytail holders, frames, trash picked buck saw and two-man saw, overflowing compost, a sweaty toilet tank, piles of dishes and leftover containers, fern gametophytes, damp sneakers, a very ugly archery target. Some more mold.

Native blackberries yet to ripen. Are they like corn? If not pollinated properly do these fruits become mishapen?

At work? It's hot. I wear linen pants in the field rather than Dickies or denim. My legs raked over and covered in red speckles from multiflora rose thorns. I'm ignoring the herbicide label that recommends wearing a long sleeved shirt while applying. Lots of dead invasive plants. Gratitude to volunteers.

Early goldenrod is more diverse than the R train during rush hour.

In the skies? A dozen and a half cedar waxwings in two flocks met and joined as one. Occasional partial oriole song. Flocks of chickadees and titmice and nuthatches. Woodpeckers calling. Less wood pewee song. Nighttime screech owl in the distance. Flocks of sparrows along the sides of slow country roads. An elderly woman in a sedan stopped in the road in the oncoming lane. Why? She's smiling, mouth open. Why? She's looking up. I've passed her and look in the rearview mirror. A small hawk on the power line. I'd like to turn around and gape, too, but I know the hawk will fly. She's still stopped. The hawk is still there. I have a good feeling.

In the meadows? Joe Pye, ironweed. Sweetflag is fading. Shrubby dogwoods in fruit. A small patch of phragmites surprises me with beautiful purple flowers (over it once I see the male model in the Urban Outfitters catalog scowling and posing a phrag patch). Common yellow throat chicks.

Grey dogwood fruit

It's the time of the goldfinch, New Jersey's state bird. With that, the beginning of the summer's end...