They’re leaving. Of course they are.
Mostly they’ve left.
Even the hawks. Even the herons. Fat on frogs and rabbits and voles.
A mouse keeps trying to move into our mailbox. I’m sure the bluebird houses are picking up rodent residents. Feet skitter about the walls and ceilings around me as whole families try to move into the house. Any day now I’ll be finding seeds in my shoes if I leave them outside.
In the orchard the apples and the pears and the blackberries burden their branches as they will at this time of year. The garden takes on the worn look of an old woman who has borne too many children.
It’s as it should be right now.
But not quite.
The heat stays. All 90 degrees F of it.
Humidity presses in as though this is the deep South. The air swells with the steady, implacable drift of insect song. The notes of another season. This is all wrong.
The sky should exhale a cracking sharpness, the quality of a fresh tart apple against the teeth.
It’s all wrong. It really is.
I look out the window.
On the lawn a flock has pulled in for the night, robins, makes sense, but when I look closer I see that they're juveniles, speckled breasts, slim and ungainly.
Not an adult in sight. Not a one.
Just dozens of birds barely out of babyhood.
I’ve never seen such a group. How did they find one another? Where are their parents? How do they have a chance--they’re all jumpy and noisy and that one over there is having the darndest time pulling a worm from the soil. Young robins are everyone else's favorite meal.
Is this when everything unravels? Is the game up?
When I step outside to ask them, whoosh-- almost as one they’re away up into the tall oaks.
And for some reason their fluid form makes me think of my daughters, in the city, figuring out a new way to work and live, shedding old assumptions and avenues, rejecting the easy, the known.
I look back at the robins, quiet now, still. Self-possessed. Or at least that's how I'm reading it.
Have they, too, seen something, sensed something, and set off on their own to face the elements, without the old ways that just won’t work in the face of fire and flood and hot days in September and all the rest of it? Will they sort it out?
I hope so.
For all of us.
I want to wave, say something smart and brave and profound, but I catch myself and turn back to the house and from there watch them feed and flitter about, and finally fly off.