Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: The Last Flowers of Summer

It feels very different outside now. Despite the recent hot weather one can feel summer slowly fading away. I am not sure if everyone can sense it. Maybe only those that keep connected to nature know for sure change is on the way without looking at a calendar.

The leaves are slowly but surely turning to their autumn russets, reds and yellows, the breezes are a little crisper in the morning, and even the clouds now take on their unique fall shades,  telling those that are paying attention that  the seasons’ changes will soon be here.

The last blossoms of New York Ironweed still hang on to the last, waiting for the butterflies that still depend on them. The many dried seed heads that will remain erect for the months to come will provide food for birds like Goldfinch and Song Sparrows as autumn arrives and winter sets in. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds continue their amazing, grueling journey searching for flowers that still hold sustenance like the beautiful orange blooms of the Jewelweed .

The Goldenrods are beginning to  glow like a gilded oasis against the greens and browns of the coming September. The Goldenrod is a vital nectar source for migrating Monarch Butterflies as well as Bumble Bees and many other pollinators. The insects that are attracted to the Goldenrods will help birds like Common Yellowthroats, Phoebes and Redstarts on their long migration south.

The Wild Ageratum holds on to its beautiful blue flowers when most all other blossoms have long disappeared, while the cerulean flowers carpet the fields for the many species of Skipper Butterflies that are attracted to the brilliant indigo blooms like a magnet. The Bumble Bees and Honey Bees utilize this awesome azure flower until fall turns too cold for them to continue.

The Joe-Pye Weed struggles to hold on to its last blooms and the Great Blue Lobelia waits patiently for hummingbirds as the last flowers now begin to fade.

The last flowers of Summer hang on as an acknowledgment to the wildlife that has endured. They stay to embrace all the bees, birds and butterflies together as one ecosystem, allowing them to survive and flourish and create a new generation, and at the same time they inspire us to believe that life will always continue.

The last flowers of summer give us the faith that what remains will bring new life even after they are long gone. Soon the last flowers of summer will be just a memory,  but they  will bring the Goldfinch through the long winter, allow the Monarch to return in Spring  and  help remind us that in every season what we achieve now will help life begin again.

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