On a cloudless, quiet mid-morning after a heavy frost, the ground remains white only in the shadows. A single orange leaf falls from the tall tulip poplar, spiraling slowly down into the dead goldenrods.
Gloomy and cold at dawn. From the depths of the seed-laden goldenrod, the first, bright chips and whistles as the sparrow horde wakes up.
Dawn: the red thread of a contrail fraying as it fades. Fog rises from the goldenrod, erasing the faint dot that must’ve been Mercury.
Another cool and quiet autumn morning. The snakeroot has faded to a blowsy brown just as the goldenrod reaches its pinnacle of yellow.
Half an hour past sunrise, the top of the tall tulip poplar turns gold. But I notice that yellow leaves continue down the tree. One sails out into the goldenrod.
Half an hour before sunrise, the goldenrod is already aglow. Venus and Jupiter fade into a cloudless sky. Towhees begin to tweet.
Through a hole in the forest canopy, a ray of sun illuminates one tall goldenrod in the springhouse meadow. An indescribably sweet odor of ripeness and rich earth.
Cold and gray. Goldenrod seed heads like white-haired old men nodding and whispering far-fetched conspiracy theories about a coming winter.
Rain and fog. With the goldenrod going gray, the yellow has moved from the meadow to the woods’ edge: spicebush, walnut, birch, elm, tulip tree.
Cloudless blue like October come early. A crow. A raven’s croak. The field full of yellow goldenrod heads bowing toward the sun.
Dawn is its own thing—not just a transition, I think, as fog forms and grows. When it lifts, the no-longer-dark meadow glows goldenrod-yellow.
And just like that, it’s autumn: clear and cool, the meadows yellow with goldenrod. A hummingbird visits the Mexican sunflower. How long till she’s off to Mexico herself?
Heavy cloud cover. A flash of red from a male cardinal cutting through the yard. Gray heads of goldenrod almost shine in the gloom.
A cold front roared in overnight. Now the wind has dropped and the clouds are clearing out. Tall goldenrod stalks shake their gray heads.