Early in the afternoon of the recent solar eclipse, I was cutting back zinnias in my garden.
Sparrows chirped off and on and cicadas buzzed and cardinals and crows called once in a while.
A friend had called the day before. And he said he had heard that birds stopped singing in the middle of a solar eclipse as though they thought night had arrived.
As the eclipse progressed, the dense honeysuckles and the high locusts that surrounded the yard took on an amber glow. It was not a vision of September so much as a transfiguration of summer to a new sepia season, a thin burnished time far from the decay of autumn.
Then I noticed the cicadas were quiet, and I heard no birds.
A little later, as the filter of the eclipse was weakening, two Monarch butterflies suddenly appeared from over the trees, soared majestically into the yard and floated beside me.
Then one of the Monarchs rose high, then swooped toward the other as though he could not hold back, and his consort rose steeply to meet him, and they spun in rapturous encounter, swirling up and around and across the flowers in tight randori.
The sun came out from behind the moon, the Monarchs flew south over the house together and everything became the way it once had been. Cicadas buzzed again. Sparrows chirped. A cardinal sang. Towards the west end of town, crows called out.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I'll be back again next week with notes for the final week of Middle Fall. In the meantime, listen for the birds and watch for the last butterfly. They are all gifts of time.
Poor Will’s Almanack for 2018 is now available. Order yours from Amazon, or, for an autographed copy, order from www.poorwillsalmanack.com. And you can purchase my book, Home is the Prime Meridian: Essays on Time and Place and Spirit, from the same sites. The essay collection contains many of the selections heard on this radio segment.