October on the Marsh

October on the marsh brings a change of light, deepening of colors, cool evenings, migratory birds—some leaving, others arriving, the brightest sunrises I’ve seen since arriving here, and boats heading home to safe harbors.

A week ago we saw the last of the tree swallows, flying from all directions just before sunset, swooping along the river’s surface, gathering over this stretch of the Connecticut River, then rising in a cloud, high in the sky, a tornado of birds funneling down into the reeds on Goose Island. The river was full of boats and kayaks, a growing number of people discovering the phenomenon and coming to watch.

There is so much to see in the marsh. Watching is its own meditation. Oak trees around the marsh’s perimeter are dropping leaves and acorn; white-breasted nuthatches inch up and down the bark, then swoop onto the suet feeder. The tall marsh grass is no longer bright green. Sunrise burnishes it dark gold. Midday sun turns it silver, swaying in the constant breeze. The flowers on the terrace are still in bloom—summer holding on as long as possible. The last monarch chrysalises are still green on the milkweed; they hatch, and the butterflies dry their wings, and I watch them take their first flights, on their way to Mexico.

On warm days I keep the doors and windows open to hear the wind and birdcalls. Soon the temperatures will drop—we’ll have our first frost—and I’ll have to close the windows. I’ll miss the sounds of nature. But today the sky is bright, the door is open, and all the beauty is there to see and hear. Soon the trees will be bare, and snow will cover the marsh, and that will be beautiful too.