We hiked our fiftieth hike twelve weeks after the summer solstice. Only two more to go until we’ve finished the full year, and only one more until astronomical autumn (unless we hike late this week, in which case number fifty was our last summer hike).
On this hike, we gathered acorns, and as we scanned the ground for nuts, we spotted many galls.
We also noticed fungi where we’d not noticed them before.
Later in the week, we heard an episode of the radio show On Point during which Tom Ashbrook interviewed Peter Wohlleben, author of the book The Hidden Life of Trees. Wohlleben spoke about the variety of ways in which trees communicate with one another and with other species, including through mycelium, the vegetative part of a fungus that forms a vast underground network in the soil.
When I heard the interview, I wondered what the fungi we saw might have been communicating under our feet.
On our way back through the corn field, we spotted a monarch butterfly. We were all excited because although we’d reared seventeen monarchs just a few weeks before, this is the first we’d seen in the wild this year.
I grasped my camera and moved carefully, but each time I got close enough to get a photo, the butterfly fluttered a few feet away and alit on a new leaf. It (she, we think) waited until I was close enough to capture its image and then flew to the next shrub before I could focus my camera. Finally it flew into the forest, and we lost sight of it entirely.
When my daughter was two years old, a friend talked to me about her eight-year-old daughter. I looked at my toddler and couldn’t imagine her at age eight. Today I passed along to the parents of a one-year-old the play kitchen I bought when my son was one. Now my children are eleven and seven, and I find that my memories of them at one and two are hazy even when prompted by photos, and I know that in another six or nine years, my memories of who they are at eleven and seven will be vague.
I try to hold onto these moments and ages and fix them in my memory, but like the butterfly by the corn field, I catch a glimpse, but they flit away when I try to draw near enough to see them clearly.