A misty morning ride, ferries swallowed by low banks of clouds hovering over the water. The bay filled with fishing boats, the docks lined up with hopeful crowds holding heavy rods. A large splash just off shore, a flash of silver. The first of the salmon have returned. Horned grebes dot the silver grey waters, the first of the winter birds to return from summer breeding grounds to the north. Blackberries dripping from soaking wet vines, blushes of red on sweetgums. Summertide is turning and the waning of the year slowly takes hold.
It is only the beginning of the changes I have witnessed each year I have lived here in the Puget Sound. The signs are familiar, like a close friend, I know these cycles of the season. Not long from now more water birds will begin to arrive – grebes, harlequin ducks, surf scoters. The rocks and sandy places along the shore will host foraging shorebirds – sanderlings, black turnstones, surfbirds.
The osprey and caspian terns will begin to gather and circle in the sky, calling and chattering, planning their travels south. Long trips towards the warmer climes of Mexico, Central and South America. This time I’ll already be gone when they start their journeys. I’ll have to say my goodbyes earlier this year.
I have my own southward journey ahead of me. A journey that will lead me to a new set of seasonal cycles and signs. A high desert and mountain climate dotted with lakes and sagebrush, juniper and pines. I’ll have to learn new signals of the turning of the year, make new friends with the land and the creatures with in it. Perhaps, though, a few of my familiar friends here in the Puget Sound Basin will pass over my new home on their way to theirs. I will watch the sky and wonder as I see swallows and osprey and geese moving south – are these ones I know? Either way I’ll wish them well and then I’ll say farewell to summer in a new place and welcome autumn in new ways.
The wheel turns, the journey continues.