The warm weather has lingered long this year at Nahant Marsh. Only recently have there been nights cold enough to frost the prairies and skim the waters surface with the most dainty skin of ice. Frost and ice which melted instantly at the first touch of morning sun.
The gold waiting just under the green has at last begun to show, although plenty of green remains. The autumn cannot be held back, however, so the remaining green will not last much longer. The sunrises are later, the sunsets earlier. Every day more gold blazes through.
And bird travelers are arriving. Nahant Marsh makes a welcome B & B, conveniently located along the Mississippi flyway, offering a rest stop and a meal to tired and hungry birds.
This autumn pelicans have dropped by. Hundreds have stopped to fuss with their feathers, catch a nap and fish with their characteristic “synchronized fishing” style. It is quite an event to watch a flotilla of pelicans dipping their long beaks in unison. It’s also quite a spectacle to watch one catch a fish so large that swallowing it seems wholly improbable.
The pelicans seem to manage though. In the air and on the water they are far more graceful than their size would imply. It is hard to say how long they will stay. As with all the birds, and all the days, you never know what you will see at any given time because it never stays the same.
The last days of summer are passing at Nahant Marsh. Tomorrow the equinox will quietly slip by, and the night will last longer than the day. The gold of autumn is already glowing through in places. The last of summer has had some very hot days, but even the hottest of them still had pleasant, beautiful dawns. I will miss the summer mornings.
Lack of rain caused the marsh’s water level to drop quite low—although not as low as last year. As the edge of the water retreated and exposed the thick black mud of the marsh bottom, sandpipers and killdeer came to hunt for tasty morsels on the new ground. The new ground quickly sprouted a fresh green “lawn” of sedges and arrowhead as the water kept retreating.
I noticed many leopard frogs in this new green “lawn”. Although they blend in very well with green skins and a dark mottling of spots, the sedges and arrowheads were not yet tall, so the frogs could be seen when they moved. While sitting quietly at the edge of the marsh, I saw quite a few flies caught and eaten by those frogs.
The frogs, of course, have to watch out for the egrets and herons looking to make a meal out of them as easily as they do out the flies. A great number of egrets and herons rest and hunt Nahant Marsh daily. The last days of summer are full of creatures that have escaped being eaten but have had enough meals themselves to become big. Fat spiders, six inch mantises, and grasshoppers the size of my thumb fill the meadows.
Summer arcing into fall is a rich, fat time. Winter freezes are still far off. Fruits and seeds are ripe. Babies are grown. A bright thick gold is simmering under the surface, ready to break out into brilliant fall. Enjoy the warm blue skies while you can, as always, it won’t ever last.