It’s September 20th, the eve of the last full day of Summer. Night has fallen, and clouds drift like wishes through a moonlit sky, driven gently by a soft, comfortably-cool, late-summer breeze. Backlit by the moon, they emit a soft white light.
As the moon disappears behind thicker cloud cover, the light of nearby towns and cities is reflected, glowing muted shades of gold, orange, red, pink, and purple now. The dark sky gives us preview autumn’s colors, hinting at what’s soon to come.
Meanwhile, the crickets chirp to each other, singing their chorus, strong and true. They sing as if nothing’s changing and they haven’t a care in the world. I so love this precious, fleeting song, and feel a wistful, reluctant sadness as I listen. For I know that their song will soon begin to fade…quieter, softer, fainter…until, finally, it falls silent and I begin the long wait for another distant evening when warm winds return and a new April moon shines down.
I listen to the cricket’s chorus and feel – just a bit – like I’m listening to the orchestra play on the deck of the Titanic. Summer is fading fast. Don’t you know? How can you sing her song so faithfully, so sweetly, as if the change of season weren’t imminent? Your time here is dwindling and your physical demise inevitable.
Ah, but never mind.
It’s my own foolishness that dampens the mood of this perfect late summer’s eve. You know better, don’t you? Time marches on, always. Perhaps that is what you were singing all along? “Time marches on. Time marches on.” Or perhaps you chirp, “Carpe Diem! Seize the day, good friends!” Is that what you sing to me all summer long? Whatever it is, it’s so lovely. Please. Don’t ever stop?
The crickets sing on, and just a few feet away from where I’ll lay my head down to rest, a Monarch caterpillar undergoes her mysterious late-summer transformation. She hangs in her tiny chrysalis, marked with gold, and dangling by a thread from the leaf of an exhausted-looking, half-eaten milkweed plant. In a matter of days, she will emerge, completely changed.
For somehow as she slumbers inside her small jade-green pod, she enigmatically morphs from a humble, yellow, black and white-striped, land-bound crawler to a regal creature of flight, strikingly marked in vibrant orange, black and white.
When the time is right, her butterfly-self will emerge from the chrysalis and she will stretch her damp and folded wings. As they dry and fill out, she’ll quickly adapt to her miraculous new form. When she’s ready she’ll test her wings; just a slow, gentle, uncertain flapping to begin, followed by her first confident flutter. Then, as she hears her calling, she’ll take flight, embarking on her long journey south where she will again find fair weather and millions of Monarch friends, all of whom have miraculously, magically worked with and through form to adapt to their new season, their new adventure, their new life.
Yes, the season is changing. And soon the crickets will fall silent, the air will turn crisp and cool, and the leaves will put on their stunning autumn display before finally falling to the ground.
Yes, the season is changing. The Monarch who now sleeps will soon awaken, no longer bound to crawl on Earth’s surface, but able to fly, light as a feather. And led solely by her own internal guidance she will fly hundreds upon hundreds of miles, leaving my home, my community, my country and crossing over to her new home in Mexico in which she will weather her next season.
Yes, the season is changing. And I shall stay and watch their wondrous display. Summer to autumn, autumn to winter, and finally winter to spring before summer returns once again. I will take in the beauty of each season, bathing in autumn’s warm colors, cool days and brisk nights, and reveling in the bright-white silence of short winter days and long winter nights. In each season, I will find a comfort, a lesson, a celebration, and a natural wonder to behold.
But I will always look forward to the peep frog’s first song of spring, knowing that before long, a new generation of crickets will emerge to sing their song, completely new, yet always the same.
“Time marches on.”
“Carpe diem; seize the day.”
Learn About Monarch Migration
Learn more and help track Monarch migrations at Journey North.
Enjoy the Beauty of Nature & Sound
I will leave you with this lovely recording of cricket song and a butterfly meditation with relaxing piano music. One word of caution: please listen in an environment where it’s safe to drift off to sleep.