Mariton: Telling Time

July 17, 2019

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus.

Monarch on Monarda

The Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is in bloom in the fields.   It means that the hot muggy days of summer are here.  The flower marks time as well as any calendar.  While I dislike muggy days, the Bergamot reminds me that it is the season, and to find ways to enjoy the summer weather.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Butterflyweed

Aldo Leopold in his seminal A Sand County Almanac marked the changing seasons through events in Nature.  I am sure there were many writers before Leopold who wrote similar essays, and there will be more to follow.  The Bergamot reminds me that I also mark the year by blossoms, birdsongs, and other nature events more than I do by flipping the calendar pages.

Photo by the trail camera

I recently wrote about the seasonal coats of deer. That coat transformation is most likely triggered by photoperiod (the length of night versus day).  Watching the deer’s red summer coats turn gray evokes inner stirrings within me.  In September, the coat change coincides with the hardening of deer antlers, cooler temperatures, longer nights, and crisping leaves.  Perhaps it is just watching the changes around me, but I would like to think that same things which trigger the change in deer also generate my inner stirrings.

It would be reassuring to know that we are still strongly connected to the natural world by things we can’t quantify. Sig Olson wrote: And so when we talk about intangible values remember that they cannot be separated from the others. The conservation of waters, forests, soils, and wildlife are all involved with the conservation of the human spirit. The goal we all strive toward is happiness, contentment, the dignity of the individual, and the good life. This goal will elude us forever if we forget the importance of the intangibles.

The changing of the seasons and how it affects us physically and psychologically are intangibles. Yet they no doubt affect us (some more than others).  That is such a refreshing thought isn’t it?  -Just as refreshing as seeing a field full of Bergamot on a hot sultry afternoon.