I don't know the wild flower, and I don't know the insect -- some sort of hornet or wasp, I suspect -- but here they are doing nature's work, on the perimeter of a field in Ft. Washington State Park, Sunday morning.
As I tap away here, around 8:00 on the evening of August 23, the sound of an approaching thunderstorm is rumbling up the alley between my house and the neighbor's. Given the frequency of the thunder, and the fact that it somehow seems deeper than usual, leads me to believe that it is going to be a real bugger of a storm. The tapping of rain has just begun...
By some almanacs today is the tipping point, statistically and meteorologically speaking, when the average high for the year hits its peak. It can only go down from here, and by late July to the first days of August, the average temperature will have dropped by a degree. Yes, I know that the hottest weather could still be in front of us, but for those of you who say that August is usually the hottest month, check the statistics. You are wrong.
I dislike the dead of summer to the same degree I dislike the dead of winter. Stagnation. Like a ship stuck in the doldrums. Yet if we are attentive, the signs that nature never really stalls are there. In just the last few days, cicada have added their clamor to the condensed heat of summer. While they sound like a kind of aural manifestation of the oppressive humidity, they are a sure sign of the seismic shift toward summer's end.
Not such a big storm after all. As I am finishing up, the storm is moving away. (Perhaps more are coming tonight.) If the weather folk are right, the heat wave that has been pressing down on Philadelphia for the better part of a week is about to be broken.
And here's the surest sign of all that autumn is on its way: L.L. Bean's Fall catalog has arrived in the mail.