....do flock together.
Every year I notice birds as they begin to flock in preparation for migration; usually the first I notice is around mid-July when the grackles and other blackbirds begin flocking. It doesn't mean they're leaving yet (as anyone with a bird feeder can testify!) but it's a sign of the changing seasons. I remember the first year I noticed how early flocking begins for some birds; it was a little bit like being splashed with cold water. The birds can't be flocking! It's just barely summer! Don't make me think about fall! I even had a friend point out that I'm always the first to note this signal of seasonal progression, and she doesn't necessarily appreciate my mentioning it, and I can understand that.
But once I got used to the idea of July flocking, I found it blending in with all the other seasonal changes, and it became another connection to nature and its cycles. Now I welcome it as much as I welcome the first wildflower in spring. This year, as usual, I spotted the grackles in mid-July; by early August I was seeing flocks of robins in the woods. Last night I noticed several dozen chimney swifts flying above the Celery Bog marsh as they begin preparation for their long flight south.
Along with the flocking birds, I've noticed the late summer wildflowers: ragweed, ironweed, asters, goldenrod... the beginnings of color in the neighbor's maple tree, hickory nuts on the paths in the woods, the bright red seed heads of last spring's jack-in-the-pulpits.
I don't relish the end of summer; I don't like to see our summer residents getting ready to leave. But I do like anything that ties me into nature, that strengthens my relationship with it. So flock on, birds, and I'll see you next spring!