Writer’s Block: Foreteller of Fall

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

With the recent rains cooling things down a little, and also spurring an explosion of vegetative growth throughout the Rio Grande Valley, I decided it was high time to do a little outdoor tidying up this weekend.

My patio, though bare concrete, is shaded by a lovely, mature mesquite tree that is quite fond of dropping dozens of those teeny, tiny leaves mesquites have. But it’s not just the green stuff that falls from the drought-tolerant Valley native — our abundantly wet summer has resulted in an equally abundant crop of mesquite beans this year.

Dozens of the long, thin pods — filled with edible, semi-sweet beans — littered my small patio like a lumpy carpet. Between them and the leaves, I had quite a bit of sweeping up to do. Then there were the few pots of long-since-done spring seasonals I’d left neglected since they succumbed to the summer heat. Those needed removing and clearing out.

So it was that I set to work with a broom and a little elbow grease as the clouds above teased that they might perhaps bring more rain. It was definitely humid enough. The soupy air, for its relatively “comfortable” temperature in the mid-80s, was none too comfortable after all with such dampness hanging in every breath.

Nonetheless, I soon had the patio detritus swept up and redistributed to where its organic nutrients could enrich the loamy soil. Then I set to work trimming off a few large suckers which had sprouted from another nearby tree, too low on the trunk to do any good.

By this time, I wasn’t quite enjoying being outdoors anymore. The humidity had wrapped itself around me like a lukewarm sponge, and I was eager to gather the rest of the trimmings into a garbage bag and be done with my simple chores.

But, it was when I was just about done that I suddenly heard a very familiar whistle. It rang out clear, crisp and sharp, slicing through the thick atmosphere with a clarity that seemed to lift the weight away from the moisture-rich air.

I looked up instinctively, searching for the source of the welcome call and sure enough, I spotted something I hadn’t seen in several months. A something I’ve come to consider an old friend — an osprey.

But he’s not just any osprey. Like many others, he migrates here every autumn and stays throughout the winter. And almost every evening, he returns to a certain perch right above my neighborhood and calls out to the ether, announcing his proud and triumphant existence.

Sure enough, there he was, perched high above the roofs, surveying his fall and winter domain. He spread out his large and graceful wings, holding them in a gentle arc as he lifted first one powerful foot and then another before settling back down again. He was getting comfortable.

I’d been wondering when my osprey friend was going to return, and had been casting occasional glances skyward at his favorite perch every couple of days to see if this day would be the day.

How pleasantly ironic, then, that my friend chose to return on such a significant day, for Saturday was the first official day of fall. I paused from my chores and stared up at him with a huge grin on my face, admiring his sense of timing. My friend the osprey: foreteller of fall.

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