Signs and seasons
A. Ray Lee
In these hot days of summer many of us long for the cooling breezes of autumn. In the order and predictability of God’s creation, fall is well on the way although the leaves have not taken on their beautiful colors and covered our lawns while exposing bare branches reaching upward in their nakedness. The nights are not yet crisp with a tinge of frost upon the grass when we awake in the morning. Yet the signs of the changing seasons are obvious to those of us who spent our early days close to nature upon a farm.
As a youth, I always hated the early morning fogs of late August because I knew in a couple of weeks the cotton fields would be white and ready to harvest. After the opening of school, my brothers and I would attend classes for a few days and then not be able to return until the first picking had been completed. I think of those days when I delay my morning walk along Lee Road until the fog lifts lest a careless driver fails to see me and make an allowance for my presence.
One day recently hummingbirds jockeyed around the feeders sucking up the sweet nectar in preparation for their long migration. The next they had all left for points south. Doves are beginning to visit my graveled driveway as the vanguard of their numbers which will soon arrive to search for food among the seeds in the fields. More will come as the harvest of corn begins; much to the delight of hunters who will test their skills against the darting flights of the birds.
Today we have enjoyed the first cool morning in weeks. I have spent several hours mowing grass that has rapidly grown since its recent clipping just a few days ago. Almost overnight Bermuda, crabgrass, and wild field grasses have urgently thrust upward stems loaded with seeds, many of which will lie dormant in the sod waiting for the warmth of spring to germinate a new crop. The daylight hours of each day are slowly shrinking at an imperceptible rate, but nevertheless, they are growing shorter.
Farmers of former generations were aware of the signs of the seasons. Many of them kept a well-thumbed copy of “The Farmer’s Almanac” and studied the zodiac to order their work.
I am reminded of the words of Jesus to the Pharisees and Sadducees who sought a sign authenticating his teachings. He had answered them by saying, “When it is evening, ye say, it will be fair weather; for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:2,3 KJV) In the troubled world in which we find ourselves, this is a question we all should face.