False Optimism?


Aki and I are soaked from brushing up against understory plants. Maybe we shouldn’t have taken this seldom-used path that cuts across headlands to a pocket beach. But it’s the end of summer when the little dog and I make a pilgrimage to the beach for its view of Favorite Passage. We usually spot an eagle or two, maybe a whale, seal, or sea lion. A bald eagle does flush from a spruce when we break through to the beach. But only one guillemot dots the passage.


We shouldn’t be surprised. It’s been a challenging summer with little sunshine and lots of rain. The rain plumped the harvestable berries but ripening without the benefit of sunny days, they are either insipid or sour. This has made me pessimistic so I am not surprised by the lack of wildlife. I give little attention to an oval of blue forming above Shelter Island. Dark storm clouds will soon cover it.


While climbing over a low coastal hill, we pass a patch of blue berry brush that sports a handful of ripe fruit. The one berry I can reach is as sweet as farm grown. Next to it is a bush already darkening to fall reds and browns. But the optimistic plant also has new flowers that now glow in an unexpected shaft of sunlight.

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