Saturday, July 24, 2010


To be in the town of Chatham, on Cape Cod, usually means spending time on Old Queen Anne Road, which is a handy way to get to Route 6. And to be on Old Queen Anne Road in late July usually means seeing a lot of Queen Anne's Lace, the doily-headed wildflower of mid-summer.

I know there's something going on when the QAL is at large on the roadsides of New England. I keep an eager eye on them from the passenger seat, like a grinning dog scenting summer from the open car window. And they go rushing by, more than bystanders, more like gnostic nomads whose migratory path crosses ours this time of year. So they wave from snatches of wild grass and sometimes quite a big swatch of meadow they have taken over. They are part of an army of summer itinerants who ride the coasting time from middle July to middle August, joined by a rising chorus of crickets and even katydids...katy did its chugging every few yards from the retreating coastline, subtlely retreating coastline, of summer. Other hoboes fall in with them here and there: blue chicory (blue sailors), goldenrod, little tansy butttons, and lilies of the tiger persuasion. But Queen Anne's Lace knows what's up, that summer is moving, as sure as a current in a slow stream, and that somewhere downstream lies dozing August.

Tonight, which is really 7/27, the biggest hobo of all rose fat, full, and yellow as a yam, naked as a Necco wafer. I am speaking not of the cold aloof moon of November or March, but a big warm over-the-cornfield moon playing mask and unmask among the clouds that appear to be trying to hide it, except it keeps popping out like a badge that will not be denied. Preside it will over the katydids, the crickets, the chicory, and the Queen Anne's Lace, who sets a table for it where all may dine. Before their epic journey to somewhere or other. Before another round of The Hobo's Lullaby.

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