Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nature Notes: The Ragged End of Summer

* I'm having computer issues and won't be around much for a few more days while repairs and upgrades are done. I'll catch up with you all as soon as I can!

The hummingbirds are looking pretty scruffy these days. Ruby Throats molt their body feathers in late August up here in the north, and they can be pretty comical while the new ones grow in. Look closely and you can see new growth around the eye on this little fellow.

Soon they'll be heading south. They molt their flight feathers once they arrive in their winter range. Like the last pot of sweet corn and the first cooler days, shaggy hummers are a sure sign that summer is nearly over.

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Love You Forever *

My younger son goes back to college Saturday. I'm going to miss him.

Passing by his bedroom door this morning ... well, noonish actually ... I was struck by a sudden, overwhelming desire to go in and wake him up.

When he was very little I loved to lie down next to him in the morning and gently tickle his nose. He tried hard to pretend not to wake, scrunching his eyes shut, his mouth twitching mightily as he suppressed a grin. When he could take no more, he opened his merry blue eyes and giggled as only a little one can.

Somehow I didn't think this would go as well at age 21 as it did when he was two. And so I tiptoed on, leaving a memory and a sigh on his doorstep.

* The experience reminded me of Love You Forever, a children's book by Robert Munsch. I thought it was totally creepy at the time I read it to my boys. I still think it's creepy, but I get it now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nature Notes: I Brake For Butterflies

Common Buckeye

I just love the things I learn when I look around for something to share for Nature Notes. And I love that it nudges me out of the house and into the yard to notice the things we usually miss. Thanks, Michelle, for hosting this awesome meme!

These little butterflies, about two inches across, are swarming my gravel driveway. (Last year the drive hosted red admirals, but I haven't seen a one of those this summer.)

It took a lot of Googling to identify our little visitors, but I finally found it. It's a Common Buckeye, junonia coenia. It's attracted to nectar and mud, which would explain the fascination for the driveway. I have to inch out of here to give them time to escape being run over, and the result is that I am escorted to the road by a lovely cloud of them.

Once on the road I have to go slower than usual to avoid hitting yellow and black swallowtails. They are particularly abundant this year, and they have an unfortunate habit of crossing the roads at windshield height.

In checking Wikipedia for the identity of the black ones, I discovered that they are color variations of the same butterfly. In fact - amazingly enough - this can happen:

It is "A bilateral gynandromorph. The left half is male, while the right half is female."

Isn't that amazing?

*The top photo is mine, but the bottom one is free access on Wikipedia.

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Nature Notes: Last of the Lilies

Last of the Lilies

** OOOPS!! **

For any who may have happened by this post before now, I offer my apologies. The angst-riddled private draft got published by mistake. Below is the post that was meant to be. Sorry for the buzz kill.

"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." - The Sermon on the Mount

I do love a day lily. They're as elegant as orchids and as sweetly fleeting as a summer sunrise. And best of all, they practically grow themselves.

See, here's the thing: I love gardens. I love the idea of gardens. And I love planning gardens. But actual gardening? Not so much.

It's all the sweating and the bug bites, mostly. I hate sweating. And I hate itching. So as you can see in the photo, things tend to go untended by this time of year.

Which is where lilies come in. They provide wave after wave of glorious color with absolutely no need for any help, which is a good thing as they aren't getting any.

I have several varieties with staggered bloom times, from early July through ... well, through about now. The big finish is this double variety that practically glows in the dark. The deer ate a lot of them, but they left enough to keep me happy.

For me, the day of the last lily is the last day of summer.
And today I share the very last one with you.

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.