A few days ago, when the cold weather lifted, the ladybugs were first to know. They spun in the air and clung to the shingles. They slipped inside the house and parked on the ceiling, hung from shade pulleys, and hugged the window screens.
It’s a fine thing to witness nature’s abundance—not just a few ladybugs, but swarms of them—speckling the shingles and landing in my hair and on my arms. But when the cold returns, they’ll slip back into any crevice they can find and won’t be seen again until spring.
For abundance has its seasons: a month ago, finches patrolled the creek bed and wood ducks congregated in the ponds. Now, cedar waxwings gather in the treetops and mallards go bottom up where before none could be found.
Even where nature recedes, in the broad avenues and byways of the city, abundance has its seasons, too. Right now, musicians are tuning up, singers are tra-la-ing up the scales, dancers are stretching at the bar, films are spilling out daily in a festival, and everyone generally is suiting up for the fall season getting underway.
Up here, our neighbor Bill, having rummaged among leaves at the base of an old oak, has found another abundance of which we weren’t aware. He arrived at our doorstep with a great petticoated ball of fungus called “Hen of the Woods,” much prized by those who know about these things. He found fifteen, so, lucky for us, he had some to share.
Some will say abundance has an underside: in the city, a swell of violence or trash clogging sewer drains and blowing down the streets; in the countryside, more deer than can possibly be supported, so that soon bushes must be cordoned off behind high fencing if they are to see spring. And some say the ladybug, that great eater of aphids, is a nuisance, too. But we won't linger on such dark thoughts.
For the exuberant abundance of fall color, the leaves falling madly all around us, the ladybugs swarming, the fungus burgeoning in the woods, the singers singing, the dancers dancing, the musicians playing—this is our world at its most grand.