An Almanac For Moderns: In Memory Of The Marshes

May Twenty-Eighth

Twilight by the marsh, and the full throated roaring of the bull frogs, very different from the first quavering of the little tree frogs in the earliest spring. A bittern somewhere, pumping, as it is usually said; to me the sound is more like a cart rattling over an old corduroy road. A sense of the passing away of spring; of the lengthening of the days to a point where the heart aches, surfeited with too much light. A feeling that all about one trees are rushing out their leaves to full maturity, the last spring flowers are bursting everywhere from spathe and scale and bud and bough, too numerous now to remember–not so sweet, so frail, so few as those first classic little blooms, bluet and harbinger-of-spring, and purple cardamine. Wild flags elegant in deep water. Little stridulations, pluckings on chitinous strings from the orthopteran insects, that remind one of summer, nay, of autumn itself. And in the trees tanagers, and black-billed cuckoos calling “scurrilous, scurrilous,” in that sultry way of theirs. 

Already the room of life is too full for us to sort out its occupants. Before we learned anything about them the spring beauties have vanished; I stand where I picked them in March, and cannot find them. The bloodroot lifts its little seed pods up, above its leaf now grown great and thick and waxy. Tomorrow I may not find it. Everywhere, blooming and leafing, mating and spawning; already crying and death.

More information on our Almanac For Moderns project and the work of Donald Culross Peattie can be found here.