Flower Hill Farm Bed & Breakfast Retreat
Innkeeper(s): Carol Duke & Sean Duke-Crockers
Last Autumnal Breaths of Cadmium and Aureolin Yellow with Palm Warbler Only Passing Through 20 Nov 2013, 7:21 am
Last breaths of cadmium and aureolin yellow
falling through another season of autumn . . .
as it falls through us . . . only passing through it all . . .
Rock Maples stand mighty and tall.
Miscanthus yellow blazes sigh with tassels reaching upwards ten feet high.
Standing nearby, soft rustling songs become more an undertone as lengthy, waving blades . . . yellow . . . then fade, and float towards the leafy floor.
A brighter, fleeting yellow reflecting tones of our November garden and landscape . . . little Palm Warbler . . . only passing through, where I used to believe you stayed and bred your brood. You are headed south now to the southerly edges of the United States or perhaps you prefer the Caribbean after spending summer months in the brisk provinces of Canada.
I last sighted one of your kind in the month of April on his way to points further north. There was such a promise of green back then and plenty of food to keep this sunny songbird content in lingering within our community for a cluster of days.
I can see you are a different bird all together from the Palm Warbler I so delighted in this spring. Wishing you a safe journey to wherever you choose to overwinter and hopefully with vernal vegetation anew, I will be here to see your cheery, cadmium yellow plumes mirroring clumps of merry daffodils.
Tree Swallows do return and remain every spring and summer, raising spirited broods here in the south field within the weathered walls of our rustic nest box . . . now being choked by bittersweet as it takes its last gulps of duller yellow.
Our weepy cherry's yellow canopy now lies in a buttery carpet around its twenty-year old main stem.
Asparagus gone wild, flames cobalt-yellow before our Metasequoia gone russet about the north field.
A couple of our crabapple trees, within the small orchard, make shiny, yellow spheres . . . tiny apples tasty to birds, throughout the winter months.
While on the ground, beneath our oldest apple tree, the vermilion stream of fruit has become a favorite rivulet for our resident White-tailed Deer to step into. Soon the flow of apples will run dry and that is, as it should be.
Beware brown eyes . . . it is the hour of hunting season of your clan . . . by man . . . who hopes to eat you, apples and all. And I could say . . . if with integrity and honor this beautiful beast comes to be . . . venison . . . that too might be . . . as it should be. Still, I will continue to whisper . . . "Stay close and you will be safe." Heed yellow's warning . . . with your usual caution . . . stepping through the land beyond this land.
Vermilion Murmurs and Malus within a November Landscape 13 Nov 2013, 2:52 pm
Cinnabar and Dragon blood come to mind when seeing the vibrant vermilion sprays of our middle garden Japanese Maple. Its blazing breath reaches over towards payne's gray shadows racing through the forested hills, we call Walnut Hill and High Ridge, creating a stunning contrast. Sturdy oaks still grasping their last burnt sienna leaves are nearly naked now. The Japanese Maple is as out of place in our landscape as an ancient Dracaena cinnabari might be, but it is a dormant dragon so lifting the spirit with its late and lasting fiery vibrance.
Viburnums have yet to let go of their purple leaves.
Cotinus, without the smoke, adds to the last of early November's crimson garden palette.
Another sleeping dragon rests just below the farmhouse in our weeping Cutleaf Japanese Maple.
Other reds in the gardens this November are juicy spheres by the hundreds . . . apples remaining on, or below, the apple trees. We have a variety of Malus senior citizens about the gardens and are thankful to those who planted the ever giving trees, one at least, over a century ago.
Sedum 'Autumn Joy' still wearing its burgundy tones before aforementioned century old apple tree.
A stream of free falls given a good wash make yummy apple sauce.
Weeping crabapple outside of the little studio offers a tangy feast for over wintering birds.
Our Metasequoia in the north field spreads out her russet plumes.
In the south field sumac brightens the fading countryside.
Meanwhile, as bold colors depart and cold, chilly air arrives, I have added another warbler to my 'A Bestiary. . . Tales From A Wildlife Garden' over at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. The stout little Black-throated Blue Warbler becomes the twenty-fourth beast . . . the seventh warbler . . . joining the bubbly bouquet of songbirds.
A Late Autumn Palette Within A Community of Trees 31 Oct 2013, 6:46 pm
In thinking along the stream of thought inspired by Wendall Berry, I have been pondering 'my place' within my place and the community I am blessed to have membership in. I am speaking of the land, of the trees and shrubberies, of the species of butterflies and bees and birds that coexist here at Flower Hill Farm. There is a language I have come to understand and the understanding came as soon as I let go of the ideas of gardening I held true and when I stopped and listened to the needs of the life all around me.
A Shagbark Hickory out in the upper garden and a Rock Maple (Sugar Maple) on the south side of the old farmhouse are both wearing cloaks of Climbing Hydrangea. The Rock Maple's yellow fleece will be getting a good trim once the leaves have all fallen, for I do not wish to cover the maple's beautiful bark.
Copious carpets of leaves linger until a blustery wind whips them around the gardens. Like a down comforter the leaves softly lay upon the ground sheltering many sleeping insects.
The community I belong to here is so wildly wondrous and giving.
Our favorite Black Cherry had a rough beginning but with determination it grew over and above the conditions trying to hold it back.
Ever reaching towards cloud and sky, the native cherry also survived losing half of its canopy two years ago. I believe all the neighboring members of the community felt the shock and I was deeply concerned for its survival.
In the photograph above, taken in October of 2009, the Black Cherry was still sporting its full canopy of flaxen tresses. There is danger in a V when worn by a tree. Just at the V. . . the entire branching going off to the right split off and was hanging threatening a deadly tear. It was skillfully cut off before that could happen.
The singular serpentine Black Cherry sometimes makes me imagine a wild black stallion with a golden or green mane grazing in the north field. There is an ongoing dialogue and connection between the cherry and two White Oaks nearby. They together form a triangle. The trees are in constant communication through their network of slender root tendrils below. Perhaps there are also connections being channeled above ground.
Besides it unique form this Black Cherry also holds a dear friend's ashes within its roots and crusty body. We call it 'Michael's tree'. He was a man who loved trees and is forever a beloved member of this community.
The Black Cherry seems to be thriving and continues to be the preferred canopy of the Baltimore Orioles each spring and summer.
Autumn's blaze is more muted now with sturdy White Oaks painting the landscape burnt sienna. Throughout the gardens, the shrubberies and plants are still turning yellows and reds but the hillside is all gray, evergreen and burnt sienna.
It has been one of the most beautiful and long lasting falls I can recall. It was as if every tree sang out . . . a choir of vibrant leafy voices carried by a breath of wind throughout the landscape. The river and rivulets below join in plashing their melodious meanderings about the wood. It was a joy to experience it all.
Two weeks ago I eyed an Eastern-tailed Blue in the south field. It was about 70 degrees and there were still some late blooming asters . . . a blossom here and a bloom there. This butterfly over winters as a larva often within a pod of some of the vetches or clovers that grow here . . . so I do not know what to make of it . . . I hope it had a good life for a few days at least, though other members of the community may have spied it too.
During my walk I also caught sight of a perfect Mourning Cloak . . . who by now has crawled within a crack or crevice of bark or under a rock or fallen branch in its full butterfly form and hopefully will safely sleep throughout the winter months. I will not move any fallen wood at this time nor disturb any assemblages of detritus for they may be home to tiny, delicate members of this diverse commune of life.
Many members feed other members of our community. It is hard at times to love all the species equally and be detached. We have enjoyed a few Yellow-rumped Warblers as they dart about gleaning dried seed heads of goldenrod and other plants scattered within the fields and gardens. They are busy in the trees too harvesting tiny larva and other meaty members. I do not recall seeing these curious warblers in the gardens this late before.
The Yellow-rumped Warblers have now cast off their brighter breeding costumes or perhaps this is a juvenile.
Come spring again the warblers will be wearing their dark masks and their return will surely be a treat.
Light and Leaves At Play In A Bright Autumn Landscape 18 Oct 2013, 10:01 am
It has been a gorgeous fall with leaves clinging to the trees far longer than I recall in recent years. The rain has held off, but the trees are slowly releasing their leaf fasteners and hundreds of their leafy members, like golden rain, are falling with the gentlest of breezes throughout the dry days and nights. The sounds of falling leaves . . . flights of leaves . . . piles of leaves . . . walking and kicking up leaves are all quintessentially 'Fall'. I am not one to run out and rake any away, however.
The wind will have its way and scatter leaves throughout the gardens . . . some warm-yellow Black Cherry leaves will fly high in groups like small flocks of birds. Others will gently float downwards as they twirl similar to a kite descending free of its string and holder. Each tumble is uniquely choreographed by wind. The weight and form of the individually designed leaves, like those of dancers, will also determine their grace and movement in falling. Many will remain where they fall and may be used by some overwintering caterpillars for a cozy, safe place away from the cold and hungry eyes of birds or other predators.
Light plays within the wide swath of forest and hillside casting its glow amongst the brightly colored canopies of Black, Gray and White Birch, Beech, Rock Maple, Oak, Black Cherry and more stately trees whose bare, crusty trunks and branches are revealed more each day as they shake their mantles free.
Sunsets bring about a particularly magical light show with an interplay of lights and shadows. Looking south easterly, towards Mount Tom, as the sun is setting in the west, slivers of light run along the ridges of hillsides . . . fleeing pursuing shadows.
Ending days pour a honey golden light along Carey and Walnut Hill changing the landscape while creating a spectacle of wonder. Mighty Oaks are only just beginning to wear a sienna or amber hue.
Changes are more noticeable day by day though they are happening minute by minute . . . hour by hour.
Each day the colors move into their full brilliant tints.
An overcast sunset casts a particular chroma within the colorful grouping of birches and the carpet of sumac sprinkled beneath and around them.
A soft fuzzy light remains as the sun sails away.
Then on the days when there are a few wispy clouds, the lavender shades paint a lovely veil across the sky as the sun disappears. Above is our surroundings just two nights before full moon with a wide angle view.
One night before full moon after a dreamy temperate day.
October's near full 'Hunter's Moon' rising over Walnut Hill just as the sun is sinking in the western sky. If you are observing the moonrise tonight you may notice something a bit strange as there will be a minor eclipse called a penumbral eclipse. It seems the change will be very subtle.
The changes going on all around the countryside are hardly subtle, however, as life is greatly adjusting to the coming of winter. Crops of apples, winter squash and root veggies such as beets and carrots are being harvested and put away for winter storage. Critters are scurrying around too . . . storing acorns and other nuts for the long winter months ahead. It is an exciting time of year that many may find depressing. The cold and fading light can bring one down but there is the magic of a fire and more time to read, write and paint await. Autumn is a season of letting go and going under and deeper within.
As I write about all this beauty and being able to embrace the seasons . . . others are trying to find means to keep warm and survive the coming winter . . . such as refugees in Syria or thousands here at home in horrid circumstances. There is such an injustice . . . inequality in our world and my heart breaks for all those who cannot simply live in peace and who do not have the simple basic needs to be happy and healthy. I never stop being thankful for the beauty that surrounds me . . . nor the freedom I have to enjoy and reap the inspiration it nurtures.
I would like to share a couple of links that I find hopeful. Food Sovereignty Prize and Center For Humans & Nature - Expanding Our Natural & Civic Imagination
There is change happening moment by moment in our fight to make a better world too. The odds are just so stacked against us, but there is hope in expanding minds the world over.
I would like to share a couple of links that I find hopeful. Food Sovereignty Prize and Center For Humans & Nature - Expanding Our Natural & Civic Imagination
There is change happening moment by moment in our fight to make a better world too. The odds are just so stacked against us, but there is hope in expanding minds the world over.
A Bestiary . . . Tales from a Wildlife Garden ~ Featuring Warblers 13 Oct 2013, 8:46 am
Time does have a way of falling away from us . . . and so it goes that for nearly two years now I have been writing about the beasts that abide in our wildlife habitat. 'A Bestiary . . . Tales from a Wildlife Garden' is now featuring songbirds with warblers being the focus of my cursor. Warblers are truly delightful birds and come and go with the changing seasons . . . leaving us each late summer and fall only to return every spring . . . their departures and arrivals help us mark time . . . beginnings and endings of growing seasons.
I would be honored if you clicked and scrolled over to Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens to see more images and learn a bit about these brilliantly marked birds. There are twenty-three installments in all but you can pick and choose which you might like to visit. Before the birds I did write about the mammals that roam around and about our twenty-one acres of forest, fields and gardens . . . not lions, tigers and bears but you can awaken bobcat, opossum and bears if you like.
The labels below reveal the names of the six different warblers framed within this collage . . . perhaps you can match them up. Their little lives here at Flower Hill Farm so enrich my life and I do feel their absence both in the silence of songs and the stillness within the branches of trees and shrubberies. Revisiting our encounters through writing the Bestiary is a joyous way of recalling all of the remarkable wildlife I am so blessed to share this land with. There are more warblers, other songbirds then hummingbirds to write about before I move on to other beasties . . . like butterflies and bees.
October Changing Light and Hues Flights Stirring Fallen Leaves 5 Oct 2013, 8:32 am
October drifted into our lives, already alive in colors changing to their true hues, with several flocks in flight stirring up fallen leaves beneath our stately Rock Maple trees. Cedar Waxwings, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, solitary Blue-headed Vireos and Bluebirds flit about calling out in high pitched trills and tweets. A pair of Pileated Woodpeckers dash and tear the sheath of air around the shivering, nearly golden Black Cherry. Everything is in constant motion most all of the time, but just now there is an excitement to the changing season and journeys underway.
The male Bluebird returns to his garden after some weeks of silence and secrecy . . . "Where have you been?" . . . I silently wonder. I have missed your soft murmuring warbles. The couple furtively, though in plain view, raised two broods here this summer and will claim their chosen homesite to begin again when springs slips over the land. Until then . . . come what may . . . we will have months together, on this east facing hillside, beneath the mantels of autumn and winter. For now, I must get out and clean their nestbox.
Just at the edge of the Crabapple Orchard a Tree Hydrangea's off-white petals melt into blush pink below a heavily laden Crabapple tree. Flocks of Robins and Cedar Waxwings, along with a Flicker or two, have already been testing the tartness of these tiny apples.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets are busy gleaning the trees of, even more tiny, insects but never seem tempted by the small apples.
Light and colors are ever in a state of change. Soon the serpentine Black Cherry will be wearing all flaxen tresses and when a large breath of wind moves through her mane . . . golden rain will shatter and fall freely like a flight of butterflies into the pathway of breeze. At this moment . . . here . . . having lived this time . . . years upon years . . . the images are like parts of a tapestry . . . each year another woven picture within a large hanging called . . . a seasonal life. A life well seasoned . . . nearing an autumnal age. Yet, I never tire of the excitement of such profound changes within the tides of nature surrounding me.
Plants and shrubs become poetic in exhaling one last flower before inhaling their life fluids deep into their inner trunks and cores. People too may pull in towards their winter souls and move slower through the pages of months yet to be turned. These last blooms will nurture our poetic natures and fuel the many pollinators still busy about the gardens and fields.
Light dances throughout the landscape creating colors of cooler and warmer tones.
The Ruby-crowned Kinglets are delighting in the black aphid population occupying a giant Impatiens glandulifer Royal. The teeny morsels of protein will aid them in their flights south. There is an abundance for all . . . I am not sure what this tiff is all about . . . respecting boundaries I would guess. These might be females or just not very seriously upset, for if they were males and truly pissed, a bright red tuft would suddenly appear atop their heads. We all hide parts of ourselves, don't we.
This Blue-headed Vireo flies about with, and looks very similar to, the much smaller Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Careful observation reveals the true identity, however. As in all life it helps to pay attention to the details and not lose sight of the true nature of things. Not to hint at our country's present state of affairs too lightly.
This morning there is a thick blanket of fog hanging between Flower Hill Farm and Walnut Hill . . . the river below gushes rapidly from the heavy evening rain . . . wearing and lapping down the memory of what the stones might have been. Earlier, as I was reading, soft chatter of birds and people's voices wafted in between the words and paragraphs . . . guests from Pakistan and Florida . . . a beautiful child wearing a white unicorn stealthily steps about the garden paths with her elegant grandmother who floats in a hammock for the first time in her sixty years. Her kind face, lush dark hair and rich light yellow and pumpkin colored finely woven silk shalwar (loose trousers) and kameez (long tunic) fill the roped hammock and wild garden with an unknown joy to its being as well.
Each day the hillside fades just a bit more . . . from forest greens to oranges, yellows and reds reminiscent of springs early blooms.
Hummingbirds and Grandmothers Migrating South 26 Sep 2013, 5:18 am
Like many birds, and some butterflies, I have headed south for a spell but will be back long before the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds featured below reach their overwintering sites in southern Mexico and northern Panama. Some individual Ruby-throated hummers may decide it is best to spend the winter along the Gulf Coast or the Outer Banks of North Carolina . . . perhaps they are not up to making the longer journey and their survival will depend on how deeply the winter sets in.
Going back to this past spring at Flower Hill Farm . . . a solitary male Ruby-throated Hummingbird arrives ahead of the female . . . he will tirelessly defend his territory from other males. After he mates, he is fancy-free in the gardens the entire spring and summer, for he does not lift a feather to help his partner in the raising of their young.
As early as mid July or August, the adults depart on their lone journey south . . . weeks before their juvenile hummingbirds take leave of the gardens. Our terrace garden offers a good supply of nectar to fuel their humming motor-motion and there is an abundance of insects, within the gardens and surrounding fields, to build up the needed fat in their tiny bodies . . . so important in enabling them to successfully make the long trip south.
As the daylight hours shrink in September, something alerts the immature hummingbirds to begin their southward trek. Off on an adventure never known, they may repeat it year after year throughout their lives.
One last sip for the trip . . .
then off they go.
Safe Travels little Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. We look forward to your return.
I will be returning to a more normal posting routine very soon. It has been a joy to walk the beaches of North Truro, attend painting workshops and then travel south to hold my precious grandson.
Happy Belated Equinox to you all.
Stepping into September Haze Ironweed Holds Center Stage 4 Sep 2013, 6:17 am
August gave us cool days dressed in flannel and comforter nights . . . the coolest August I can recall since my transplanting to New England just thirty-eight years ago. Mostly busy days filled the weeks that passed in tones of green, with worldly guests and migrations stirring motes of dust, pollen and memories . . . both lived and dreamed.
The last hours of Augustus suddenly lead into September's first dawn . . . breaking through a thick haze of clouded air with bolts of zagged light only Zeus could throw around this old farmhouse. I was sure the power would go out or worse, but we were spared, this time, and when the new, once seventh, month took hold in a fresh day . . . the air was less heavy with only empty threats of lightning and downpours. Frightening storms floating off to the east . . . the air refreshed, and heaviness lifted, a page on the calendar is turned . . . and the small purple florets of Ironweed takes center stage in the middle meadow garden.
At last a Monarch settled long enough for me to catch its portrait whilst sipping from the teeny petals of Ironweed . . . this being only my second glimpse of a Monarch Butterfly in the garden, this year, so far.
Ironweed stately stands reaching nearly the eight-foot height of Joe-pye weed, adding a bright brush stroke of regal purple to the landscape painting. Touches of yellow come into play with Rudbeckia and Solidago.
Greater Spangled Fritilaries join in the feast of Ironweed.
One worn out from weeks of flight throughout August with a fresh Fritillary September emergence.
Autumn, but three weeks away, will paint the apples in deeper red hues.
By now, many of the bouncy snowballs of Annabelle's Hydrangea are carpeting the garden floor revealing the Tree Hydrangea beginning to blush in the background.
Viburnum seeds, nearly gone, have filled the bellies of Cedar Waxwings, Catbirds, Robins, Flickers and more resident Aves.
Though we miss the many songs and calls of birds, now gone or silent, Katydids and grasshoppers create such a cacophony between every blade of grass falling like a mysterious, musical mantle over the inky nights.
Not quite a violin, but there are actions within these wings striking together in atonal harmony.
Grasses cut a soft and feathery feel amongst green striking stalks . . . catching light while slicing through the canopy of sky, enveloping Flower Hill Farm, and tickling the muse of darkness.
September will summon silky tassels from within these taller Miscanthus greens.
This tiny, iridescent juvenile's parents have long begun their migration southward bound. I continue to delight in the antics and jewel-like presence of the young Ruby-throated Hummingbirds . . . though knowing they too will be parting soon. Enjoying the days with all the many treasures without clinging . . . knowing ephemeral joys are for moments only . . . we move with gratitude into September's ways.
Peace blossoms with justice . . . would that it could be alive in the hearts of all humankind. Our voices, pens and keyboards must be loud like the Katydids wing-songs filling congress and our president's mind with woe for what they may be about to sanction. Life is precious and fragile.
A Sultry Summer August Day Full Moon and Clouded Sulphurs Play 23 Aug 2013, 6:51 am
August is a wild time of year in the gardens here at Flower Hill Farm. The daily lives of wild things blend and move about with ease. There is an understanding between the land and animals . . . we all take what we need . . . but never too much. I do wish to call a court in session to introduce charges against our resident rabbit's rabid rapacity, however.
We rarely see young bucks, such as this one, sporting unique antlers. He will shed the lopsided headpiece this winter or early spring of next year and begin to grow new ones. Careful attention must be paid to this teenager to be certain his curiosity does not get the better of my Liatris for a second time.
The deer have much to munch upon within the acres here, and many more surrounding, so they are kind to me and my gardens. I continue to cut oak, maple and birch saplings allowing new tender growth that deer find nutritious and delicious.
This is the main color show of the gardens now . . . last year Ironweed, Joe Pye weed and Rudbeckia were magnets to butterflies . . . this year there are mostly native bees . . . but few fluttering wings go by.
I did finally see one restless Monarch butterfly last week, but she did not approve of our older milkweed and moved on right away, in search of tender leaves to fasten her eggs upon. I miss the enchanting process of metamorphosis but do have one little Black Swallowtail ward who has now become a chrysalis.
There were many Monarchs last year enjoying the nectar of Ironweed. The image above was taken a bit later in August than the one above it . . . so perhaps more butterflies will find their way here again.
Nearing the last week of August . . . but there is still time for frolicking. Clouded Sulphurs exhibit their tiny orange and black full moons, while sipping runaway marjoram and courting or cavorting in the field below the middle garden.
Wild Morning Glory is taking over the Bluebird nestbox . . . I am allowing it, as the larger Bluebird family has taken off, beyond the cotton clouds, for now. Nearby, Rudbeckia 'Herbstsonne' reaches for the light to a height of over seven feet. This great plant will never catch up to the stately tips of the Hydrangea paniculata it stands before.
Hydrangeas, though tired and somewhat spent, still offer sustenance to many pollinators. There has been not a plant/weed lifted from this area for all the days of summer. I am surprised by the diversity of small and simple flowers that seem to delight both butterfly and bee.
Our much beloved (NOT) rabbits devoured the planter plantings but now volunteers of pineapple basil, verbascum and salvia are content being squatters. The gardens are on their own this year . . . once the rabbits ate my first food plantings, sigh, I gave up and decided to just be on the land and see what happens when all is left to grow on its own. I do confess to cutting many winding, meandering tendrils of bittersweet, grape and bindweed.
Apples are ripening and some falling . . . creating an edible carpet for wildlife. There are so many more than enough for us all. Last days for the daylilies too . . . as each day unfolds and closes another fresh and droopy bloom.
'Journey's End' final blooms . . . true Lilium reflecting summer's closure coming soon. Not far off
summer's end and beginning autumn, as syrupy sweet petals fade and fall.
The south field is overgrown with sumac, which will paint the landscape red in weeks to come and then all will be mowed revealing the form of land again by November. Here, the Tree Swallow nestbox is overrun by bittersweet. I recall less height to the field and wildflowers but weeks ago when a Tree Swallow pair tenderly care for their nestlings.
Migrations are in motion . . . today there were at least a hundred Tree Swallows swooping and scaling the sky just above these fields and spreading over towards the middle garden. I like to think that among the many are the two families of swallows from our north and south field nestboxes and they are all on their way to Cape Cod where I may chance to see them once again later in September.
Lavender giants boldly tearing through the sky in dusky twilight . . . our Rock Maples on the south side of the 1790 farmhouse are ever dramatic and inspirational . . . to the painter in me especially.
Upon the edge of the north field looking south . . . a simple place to be . . . to watch waves in canopies of trees and the great blue yonder . . . while chasing ephemeral light stretching over Mount Tom in the Pioneer Valley beyond.
August is nearly full as is its swollen, golden, 'Sturgeon' or 'Blueberry' moon . . . yet, many surprises are to be found in moments lived within the realm of our wondrous Mother Nature. Summer seems longer in moments. Shall we seize the moment then . . . for as long as each new day gives forth fresh butterflies and our young resident hummingbirds are still dipping and humming into my dreams . . . I cannot say summer is gone.
Hot Colors of Cool August Butterflies and a Bestiary of Birds 14 Aug 2013, 8:36 am
What is normal or average anymore? It seems that days are spread out more like a delicately hand-stitched quilt laying loosely across a large bed . . . not in triangles or squares but in free-form patterns that hardly relate to one another except in hues. Vivid colors, with a play of values, fills the eyes and dreams of those that slip beneath basted layers of wrinkled cloth . . . pieces torn and recombined.
Such are our New England August days, once felt to be the warmest of the summer. Somehow the year has been taken apart and reset with September's cooler temperatures now placed where August's heat used to be. Memories of summer ways, warm fronts, cold fronts and days get reshuffled into another sort of design.
Climate change is not simply hot and cold, wet and dry . . . sadly we must visualize another sort of quilt made of ancient dead organisms, fossil fuels, dirty values and sooty tints pieced in carbon footprints across an unimaginative covering that is choking, liquefying and slowly reshaping shorelines and beloved landscapes over the huge berth of our earth.
The little glass globe, that we all love to handle and shake, in order to see clean snow falling over a quaint home, has cracked in large proportions never to be repaired. A nightmare creeps in between the fragments of fabric presenting a globe where pesticide and other unimaginable poisons fall as deadly flakes into a world where all life is sickened. As we place the fragile memory of a child's more beautiful dream back in a protected case and slide back under what we believe to be a safe and cozy blanket, we fail to see how it too is becoming unraveled while we kick away the cover of truth too often and go about our usual "Oh Well, What Can I Do?" ways.
It is in the little things we do everyday, in our pennies we fail to count, where we might see a change. Collectively, in our right minds, with our voices and dollars demanding a greener world; where families are not displaced, wooly, white bears may safely stand and butterflies continue to fly, we may yet save the fine flora and fauna that we are so intricately a part of.
This morning when I woke, I thought to just write whatever came out of me for an hour and so the paragraphs above appeared. You may skip them and simply join me in this landscape I call home, where our native Joe-Pye Weed stretches towards Walnut Hill and the sky above.
Where Red-spotted Admirals extract vital life-enhancing nectar.
Tiny colorful American Coppers pollinate marjoram.
A more muted beauty with great eyes . . . Common Wood Nymph sipping marjoram.
A garden falls over into itself.
Yesterday, for a split moment at least, I was excited to think I eyed a Monarch butterfly. Alas, the Monarch was but a Viceroy. Though a beauty in its own right, this butterfly is not one I can raise and observe its metamorphosis. It is a joy I have had for thirty years and the absence of Monarch butterflies in our gardens this year and across parts of the country is greatly felt. Pesticides from GMO's is greatly to blame.
Daylilies are fading but there are still some to delight certain butterflies. Hydrangeas in the middle garden are still offering beauty and nectar too.
A Spicebush Swallowtail wearing pollen dust enjoys a dip and sip from deep within the well of this flower and soon flies on to another. I am exhibiting two separate blooms visited by two different butterflies captured weeks apart. I do not know of spicebush growing here . . . perhaps a neighbor grows it or there is another plant, growing on our land or nearby, that this butterfly has decided to use as a host plant.
Even a teeny Delaware Skipper is attracted to the flavor of daylily and casts its proboscis towards the Hemerocallis reservoir of sweetness.
I should love to see from the compound eyes of a butterfly, for a day or five, when the birds are otherwhere and otherwise occupied.
Surely, seeing the world of colors, as this Greater Spangled Fritillary does, could inspire.
The daughter of Zeus may well exchange a glance from within a human eye and morph back into herself within this Aphrodite Fritillary butterfly. Perhaps by seeing our worlds from within other's eyes we may all grow more wise.
For a bird's-eye-view I have taken to writing about warblers and if you might enjoy seeing and learning more about these marvelous feathered friends of our gardens, forest and fields, why not take a click over to Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens to view various installments of my 'A Bestiary: Tales from a Wildlife Garden.'
May your days be filled with butterflies and birds . . . I would love to hear of your Monarch butterfly sightings, if you are of time and mind to share.