My thoughtful spot is a moss covered rock in a little glade on a high creek bank that brings me almost to the same level as a small waterfall, rushing now after a week of summer rain. A half-moon of jagged rock creates the ledge for this waterfall, and curves, room-like, around the shallow creek and bedrock below, but the water doesn’t fall at the center of this ledge, it is diverted to one side by what seemed to be many years' worth of collected leaves and debris. But just now, as I attempted to clear this unsightly tumble out of the water’s way, I discovered it was not made up of dead leaves and branches, but something far more fascinating. It is a great, intertwining jungle of roots from the surrounding trees, clinging fiercely to the rocks for the entire height of the ledge and reveling in a tumbling, ever present water source. So this little waterfall must remain a bit off kilter for now, and its lopsidedness will make me smile. Raindrops are still falling as I write, but a heavy canopy of deepest green keeps me, and my pages, mostly dry. The rain that does make it through the leaves makes the ferns and grasses dance every so often, and then they sparkle as though scattered with jewels in the occasional dapple of sunlight.
The first jewelweed blooms (Impatiens capensis) are just below me on the creek bank, their brilliant orange trumpet flowers nodding lazily into the water, and a trio of poison-green damselflies have been darting through and among them. If ever an artist wished to capture proof of the complementary beauty of opposites on a color wheel, this would be the scene to paint. I used to think that damselflies were female dragonflies, an association that made sense in my child’s mind, but ever since I have learned that they are in fact a distinct species, I’ve been eagerly waiting to hear about the discovery of a knight-errant fly. Granted, the name doesn’t have quite the same flow to it, but I do find this absence of so essential a protagonist in the fairy tales of the insect world rather disturbing. I suppose the dragonflies must be pleased about it, but the damselflies most assuredly agree with me. They circle close to the surface of the water, I remember reading once that they used to be called "water sniffers" for this reason, their tiny black wings beating so quickly they seem only a grey blur around their impossibly bright, iridescent bodies. The sunlight makes a tiny dancing pattern of amber gold and green as it catches the running water one moment, a damselfly the next.
"Thro' crofts and pastures wet with dew / A living flash of light he flew."
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Two Voices, "Today I saw a Dragonfly"
A large multiflora rose bush (Rosa multiflora) is just up the slope from where I sit, passed its blooming, but the crowding white flowers have left pale green hips in their place. It’s quite easy to get to, for a bramble bush, so I’ll have to keep it in mind when the hips ripen to bright red in the autumn, and are ready to be harvested.
On my walk here I passed a flourishing elder tree (Sambucus nigra), another herb to harvest when October comes. But now this delicate tree is fully abloom, the ethereal lightness and scent of its lace-cluster petals make the legends about it easy to believe. The elder tree has a long herbal history, every part of the plant has been used medicinally, and the flowers and berries are among my favorite herbs, for they have wonderful flavors and healthful benefits to match. But the history of this herb is not only medicinal, its wood was once prized for making harps and flutes of peerless tone. An old English rhyme says that summer begins with elder flowers, and ends with elder berries, and if one waits patiently under an elder bush on midsummer’s eve, legend claims one might see fairies dancing at their midsummer’s feast.
There is something very magical about a summer rain, for the air feels golden more than grey, and somehow in this gentle light every shade of green looks greener still, as though moss and grass and fern and leaves are all somehow more alive. And this afternoon, in these moss softened trees, with the cheerful call of a little waterfall and the faint, peach and honeysuckle scent of the false mimosa trees in the air, a very joyous summer has met me in this peaceful place.
Summer met me in the glade,
Do You Have a