Bay Reflection
September Times Two:

Welcome Back

by Carol Glover

Summer brings estrangement. The Patuxent River, like a lost lover, pulls away from me, becoming unapproachable.

June brings commercial crabbers, the revving of engines and bobbing of buoys, joined this year by ear-splitting early morning music from an especially nasty waterman. Quiet river mornings have gone.

Wave runners, with their harsh engine sounds and high speeds, rend the air and water accompanied by human shouts and screams. Sailing in the cat and calm, peaceful kayaking seem out of place now. The sea nettles move in, turning the river water around beach and docks to what my grandson calls "jelly water."

The "baby pool" temperature, absorbed from the July and August sun, is the last kiss. No cool wading along shell-strewn shoreline and no dips into refreshing depths. Summer days are spent looking at the river from afar. The separation is complete.

September brings reconciliation. The errant lover begins his return, making small approaches, extending peace offerings.

First, the blue heron. He walks the beach, strolling slowly from point to dock to neighboring sand. He perches grandly on the pilings, surveying his domain, looking up and down river, taking stock and checking out the approach of fall.

The commercial crabbers slip away. No more early morning breaking of the sound barrier, no multi-colored buoys as far as the eye can see. Hello, peaceful serene water.

The swans come closer to shore, showing off their young, trusting that the summer danger has passed. They swim up river in the early morning and float or paddle back in the afternoon sun.

Last the nettles recede. A blob remains here and there, but major clumps disappear. The water clears. Bernie Fowler could really see his toes now.

The lover has returned. Fall, winter and spring on the Patuxent stretch away before me. Inviting me to watch the sunrise, wade into cool, clean water and kayak into silent nooks and crannies.

Welcome back.

Golden Month

by M.L. Faunce

What says September more than goldenrod? Waving good-bye to summer with feathery fingers the color of precious coins, this pretty perennial signals a kinder, gentler summer called Indian.

The fountain of color found along roadsides and brackish marshes by the Bay comes just in time for butterflies, too. When other plants are flowering not, the goldenrod has nectar to spare. In spite of drought, the goldenrod's lance-shaped stem climbs high to spill seeds for sparrows when they need food most.

Once, a well meaning neighbor urged me to "pull those weeds" growing spiky and tall in a perfect border while other plants languished from drying heat. If you talked to plants you'd find this one says, 'I get no respect.' But people change and plants adapt. Look around and you'll see the same folks who pulled out the goldenrod's trailing roots by the barrelful now buying the plant that winds of time have always blown their way for free.

And don't blame this native species for your latest bout of hay fever. Their pollen is carried off on tiny bees' knees and not through the air and straight to your nose.

An early September deluge dampened pollen and brought another gift. Relentless moisture unlocked a barrage of fleshy fungi. As if by magic and overnight, mushrooms sprouted, from tight white caps to the broadest toadstools. Look under a spreading oak after any big rain. After this inundation, find them dotting farm meadow, field and forest, like littered leaves.

When September brings dry, warm days, look for goldenrod waving good-bye to summer. Say hello to golden, Indian Summer days. To autumn just around the corner.

When September pours it on, threatening to ruin our parades and picnics, crouch low. Discover the underworld waiting to be released on a moist, balmy day at summer's end.

September, like life, has more than just one theme.

Both Glover and Faunce are NBT contributing editors.

| Issue 36 |

Volume VII Number 36
September 9-15, 1999
New Bay Times

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