These days it seems like everything is on an accelerated schedule--from the heat of campaign rhetoric to the winter look of my trees. Irene blasted our coastal town with desiccating winds and salt sprays. In response, the trees have started to lose their leaves months ahead of time. They're skipping the finery of autumn's amber and crimson hues, donning the shriveled, curled, tattered browns of winter. The old maple behind my house has lost more than half its leaves; every time the wind gusts up, another batch flurries through the sky, covering the lawn, the deck, the chairs.
The trees have gone into defensive mode. But the stress must extend far beyond their leaves. Birds' nests are exposed; many of the flowers from which they feed are mere husks. (Do birds like toasted, salted seeds the way we do? Somehow I doubt it.) Hummingbirds and finches dart through the garden, looking for sustenance. It is unnerving; we still have the heat of early September, and the strong light as well. The seasons are out of joint.