By Rob Rich
The flaring wings or the breezy wisps of aspen and birch are few today. Gone are the flights of spring, but at Mobbs Farm in Jericho autumn is in flight. Apples and acorns plunk down with minimal elegance, but the swirling leaves trade the birds for brightness in the distant wood. And across the rusty meadow, others waft down lightly before winter. This is a day for milkweed, hinting at flurries to come.
They glide with a powdery lift by a pappus – the Greek for “old man” – providing cottony parachutes for each kernel. Soft, green pods once held them moist and tight, but now they are freed as they crack in the crisp, dry wind. The pods tear apart, opening for each white pappus to glisten like eyes in the gaze of the sun. They lift with a grace that seems to laugh at gravity. But failing to plant in the sky, they finally fall. I wantonly tear at some unopened pods, eager to help the silky strands find a resting place on earth.
By Matt Cahill
I spent the afternoon sorting a tangle of dead bodies. Their legs were all snarled in a heap. I had to pry each little corpse apart, delicately, one at a time. Down the barrel of my microscope the petri dish was filled with yellow stripes and cellophane wings, stray heads and dispossessed parts. How lovely, I thought, to see nature up close.
Then in the middle of the pile, underneath the furry abdomen of a bee, a set of small black legs began to wiggle. These insects had been stewing for two weeks, ever since I had swept them up in my net from the late-summer goldenrod and dumped their squirming bodies into a calm bath of ethanol. They should have been very much dead.
But the legs kept wiggling. Pushing the bee aside, a small wasp head emerged, yellow-painted with large black eyes, quivering. The tiny wasp crawled up on the pile of bodies like a shipwrecked sailor on a sandy shore. I shook the dish to knock it back under.
“Savage! What gives you the right to kill?” the small wasp yelled when it surfaced again. Continue reading