Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Flying Cats

I am barefoot on the dew fresh lawn, always barefoot these days in spite of the times a piece of wood or small edge pokes my foot.  The morning air is cool at last, even though the air feels like a wet-shower filled bathroom.  I am closing in with my little hand-held camera on some butterflies that are landing on glistening flower heads in search of the earliest nectar.  Last night's two inches of rain has kept everyone still until the mid-morning sun finally peaks through gray clouds and surprises with very warm rays on the shoulders and arms.

Just behind my head I hear the purr of a cat or perhaps it is a small kitten in the throes of some extreme pleasure.  But since I do not own any cats and since I know that cats do not fly, I turn ever so slowly in the direction in question.  At an odd angle with my head, I capture this hummer as he looks for the zinnias that now have wreathes of those yellow star blossoms that convey the sugar.  This pink zinnia will provide no reward.

I am a tree.  I do not move except to push the camera which makes a tiny click.  She suspects something, but is not sure why the tree is so strangely shaped.  She lingers every so briefly, before flying to the bee balm in the bed by the sugar maple.

Since she filled my heart I feel creative and  go back inside and add some magic (photoshop) to a photo of an old beaver pond I took last spring.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer's End

Weather has broken which means the fat lady is packing her ancient dusty trunk with overheated memories and planning on heading south where she can lounge by the swimming pool for a few months while sipping something cool and intoxicating and telling tall tales to anyone who will sit by her side and listen.  Each year when I think she is too much of a personality to handle, I also find that I regret the departure of her in-your-face attitude.  I find I miss that heavy perfume she insists on wearing and the multi-colored scarfs that she drapes here and there.  So go read the old post above, and then come back and enjoy the butterfly parade.

Not a native but taken in the museum butterfly arboretum.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Woodland Witch

There is this crazy lady that lives in my woodland, and open minded as I try to be, she sometimes scares me.  She could be classified as a tree-hugger by more moderate environmentalists and perhaps as a witch by those less kind and with a younger more myopic view of life.  Me?  I just tolerate her.  I don't want to drive her further over the edge as I must interact with her fairly often.  This particular story involved her herb garden.

The new morphing on her part is that she now thinks she is one with the woods.  She has been observing it so many years that talking to the birds and squirrels is pretty normal for her.  But last week she decided to be a savior.  She had noticed that her parsley was being eaten by caterpillars.  These were probably future black swallowtails as these tend to favor parsley and fennel, both of which are in the Woodland Witches garden.  They were doing a number on the leaves for a few days, but when she went out to water her herbs, she noticed that most of the little buggers were gone.  You would probably look on this as a good omen, the demise of predatory insects without the use of any pesticides.  We should all be so blessed.

It seems a discussion ensued (with herself which tells you she really is a witch) and it became clear that the many birds that live in her yard were eating the little caterpillars as fast as they grew.  Oddly, she saw this as a predicament!  Her solution was to take the largest caterpillar and bring it inside her home and house it in a small glass mixing bowl to protect it from the birds.  I am not making this up!  She would clean the bowl daily of poop and then add a new parsley sprig as the little green worm-like creature got bigger every day, which, of course, it did almost before ones eyes.  I cannot begin to describe the odor that such an odd little green worm-like creature emits as he is being moved from his house for cleaning!  Only a witch would tolerate this!

Eventually it seemed to go into a stupor.  The Woodland Witch had read an article about these creatures being like Chimeras and re-inventing themselves as something so totally different that it could be considered a form of re-incarnation by some.  When the caterpillar climbed to the top of a twig she had placed against the glass he spun just a few silk threads around his chubby waist and seemed to throw back his head and hang himself in despair.  But instead of death he morphed into the loveliest green silk chrysalis as any 5th grader could tell you.

Our witch lady took him outside and carefully placed the twig in the shelter of the front porch and far from any predators.  You may be able to see it just above the sign in the photo below. She was eager to see this Chimera come out of the chrysalis after the magic spell had been completed.

Of course this story does not end here because she looked carefully and did find one more of these caterpillars and now is daily cleaning the home and feeding the stomach of a second tenant!  I do not need to tell you the name of this crazy old-lady witch...do I?  But I will show you the results of the magic.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


From an early age we are taught to share.  We are told that those with abundance or more must share with those who have nothing to share.  This year, as most years, we have an abundance of all kinds of tomatoes.  My husband loves to set up tomato tasting tests and every year he finds a new one he likes.

We take some to the thrift shop for distribution.  We also found that our local turtle that hangs out by the front doorstep on some days prefers the small yellow pear shaped ones.  We discovered this after hubby dropped one on the way into the house.

Mr. Turtle preferred the yellow tomato over a very juicy and sweet fig that I laid out next to it. Our tree is producing way too many to eat without sharing.

But this little devil in the photo below pretends he is eating clover in the front lawn and then in the night comes back and DOES NOT SHARE!  His days may certainly be numbered after he did a number of his own on my soy beans and squash!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weeds or Not!

Everyone who gardens or tries to control even a small patch of yard is well acquainted with weeds. Weeds are those plants that show up where you don't want them.  We have a weed here in my neck of the woods that tends to grow at the edge of woods where soil has been disturbed.  Several of these small trees called Arialia spinosa or Devil's Walking Stick emerged shortly after our driveway was cleared and paved over five years ago.  I would have eradicated them except my expatriot blogger who lives in Japan wrote a post on how delicious and rare the spring shoots are from this plant in his country.  People in Japan that live in the country hike way into the forest and keep their little stash of walking sticks secret.  Well, that was enough to make me save this baby forest and it has grown as below.  You always want something that is rare to others even though common to you!  What is up with that?

I have never made it out to harvest the emerging spring shoots and enjoy them as a tempura, but will probably do so someday.  The plant deserves its common name as you can see, there is a price for spring shoots.

Even without edible parts, there are other benefits to this little forest that I saved.  Above it comes forth like candles in the spring as the buds begin to form.  Then it becomes the best place for pollinators of all types as the blossoms open.   

It is a song fest of buzzing and fluttering until the fall when the little flowers become dark berries, food for robins, blue birds and other berry eaters.  If I remember I will post a fall photo or two.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Change in the Weather

I was doing something in the kitchen. Processing the figs for a cake perhaps or maybe just cleaning up after all the tomato slicing. I cannot really remember.  The weather has been hot and dry, but the figs are sweeter than ever and we have been pretty regular about soaking the garden beds for the tomato plants with the result of too many tomatoes to eat. Yet it had been so dry that even those hardy plants like the celosia in the ignored beds were reaching out for any drops of water.

I had left the TV running in the background when suddenly the newscaster was interrupted and that nasty high demanding beeping sound came on.   I turned to the television and in old courier text across the screen was the news from the national weather service that a tornado warning was in effect and one had touched down just to the north of me. Instead of heading to the basement like an intelligent person, I grabbed my camera and ran to the dock to see the changes in weather. Something I had not seen in weeks and weeks of dry sunny days.

It was a strange weather change with no dramatic wind shears. Almost as if the storm was too hot and tired to even move much less explode with energy.  Even the birds, tiny dots in the photo above (you have to click on the photo to barely see them), were ignoring mother nature's gentle warning as they cruised high above on the soft air.

I was glued to the spot.  Sky color is my primary clue for danger and this sky had no yellow-green angry hue.  It was gray and lovely.  Then, with the most gentle of changes in air, drops began to dance on the surface of the water...rain drops!  They fell making perfect pirouettes.  Perfect circles of celebration.

Every so softly and gently they tapped the mirrored surface.  There was no anger or rush.

 This was too late for the farmers corn, but welcome for other crops.  Welcome to fill the cracks that had formed in my lawn.  It was welcome to the tulip poplars that had been throwing yellow leaves like confetti across my driveway for weeks.  From the sound of bird song, I think it was a welcome change for them.  And even welcome to the ducks that had not seen their favorite weather in almost forever.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Simple Shade

Even this gentle and shy yellow rose peaking from the shade has gotten a little sunburn. Or maybe she is blushing because it is so hot today.

Hard to hide this beauty even in the shade.  But their harvest days are short and they find little time to rest.

I decide I have had enough of taking photos in the hot sun and I pull up the green umbrella to rest in the shade.  Ah I see that someone has already reserved their cool spot.