This photo challenge brings back a familiar soundtrack from my childhood:
“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”
by The Five Man Electrical Band.
MIlkweed pods bursting to release their downy seeds is a sure sign of October in Virginia.
Perhaps that ’60s childhood, living for a while on the safer fringes of “hippie culture” near VCU in Richmond, left me with a prejudice against too many signs.
Wild mushrooms form a signal along the roadside. What might they be trying to say?
And so I look to the natural world for “signs.”
Ripened chive seeds burst from their pods.
Yes, I, too, appreciate that large “restroom” sign on the wall of the grocery store. And I almost appreciate the fast food and gas directional signs at interstate exit ramps.
Virginia Creeper, full of ripe berries, has turned scarlet.
And yes, super-sized street signs and stop signs make driving much nicer.
But I always cringe at the huge political placards which sprout in late summer from lawns and roadsides.
The best display I’ve seen this season featured all of the signs hung upside-down.
And the huge, neon, animated billboards towering over some interstate highways are way over the top.
I prefer the visual peace and quiet of trees and waterways; lawns and medians filled with wild flowers.
I even prefer a high concrete sound barrier, softened with vines, to the assault of hundreds of competing signs.
Mushrooms grow where the soil is moist and fertile.
Perhaps I’m simply looking for information which won’t turn up on signs printed by man.
Let the signs in nature alert me to changes in the weather, and the progress of the seasons.
Dogwood berries entice the birds. Do you see the female cardinal in the tree?
Let the rustling wings and calls of birds tell me the sun is up for another day, and the color of the soil tell me whether to spend my morning watering the garden or chatting with a friend.
Our trees filled with hundreds of black birds this morning, all calling to one another as they searched for ripe berries.
Let the color of the sky tell me whether to bring a jacket or umbrella, and the color of a fig’s skin give testament to its sweetness.
These are the signs which speak to me, and the signs I watch for in the ever-rushing stream of time.
Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014