The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean -
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down -
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
I believe we are made to connect with nature and we are extremely fortunate when we come to appreciate that healthy connection.
I try to spend some time outside every day. Often, I'll have a subject in mind to photograph and study and then that idea is quickly upended by the discovery of something new, right under my nose. Thursday, I had hoped to catch a young hummingbird at the Cardinal flower. It was a lovely, cool morning yet somehow, the bird knew the nectar was not available. It was going to some buttonbush and salvia blooms that were in more sun. So, I looked around.
A tiny critter moved on the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) about 10 feet in front of me. At first I thought it was a spider, but no, it was a true bug that we had not seen before, a Spined Assassin Bug (Sinea diadema). Read more about this beneficial insect predator here:
We were having lunch later that day in the gazebo when I saw a Monarch fly north out of the garden. Dan saw another on the Marsh Milkweed, and I went down to find that it was a female. The butterfly laid several eggs before going back to sipping nectar. This new generation will be the butterflies that complete the migration to Mexico.
A Familiar Bluet damselfly was flitting around on the Coral Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) in the breeze. It's no wonder that these insects inspire artists and moviemakers with their fantastical looks.
Earlier in the week, the Barred Owl was back in the Roughleaf Dogwood next to the deck. We had heard both of the owls the night before, just outside our window. It stayed until about 11:30 a.m. when a Blue Jay spied it and started making a racket. We have been hearing them more often but still not sure if they had any young.
Several of you have commented on how "cute" the fawns were in the last post. Well, my friends, we must face facts. "Cute" fawns do grow up and our neighborhood is now inundated with White-tailed Deer. There are no natural predators, i.e. wolves, to keep their numbers in check and that fosters disease in the resident herd. Last February, we saw firsthand a doe that was so sick it could no longer stand, flailing its legs in the air. It was not a pretty picture on a Sunday morning. The doe had to be put out of its misery by our local police officers. We thanked them, surely that was beyond the call of duty. No, as it turns out, they get calls like ours often.
This is the first year that we have seen these bucks with their large racks of antlers so early in the season. Half of the homes in the neighborhood have family dogs, so you can guess where the deer tend to concentrate.
We have put up with some loss of vegetation, but decided it was time to restrict their movement in the Bubbler Area before the hormones kick in with the imminent breeding season. So, Dan partially fenced off the area. We'll see how this works. So far, so good.
The birds have adapted, even using the fencing to perch on. Squirrels and raccoons can still get underneath because Dan positioned it high on the stakes. The buck decided to hunker down and wait to see if we'd take the fence down. No joy there.
The hummers are enjoying all the blooms right now as they chase each other through the yard. My favorite annual is the Fuchsia Gartenmeister, which closely resembles the Coral Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). The birds love it, too. The Fuchsia blooms from late spring til frost, producing flowers as the Coral Trumpet wanes.
This young hummingbird zoomed right in to sip at the native Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).
Ironweed (Vernonia arkansana) is just blooming and it soon will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. American Goldfinches are finding Purple Coneflower seeds to eat.
We've had a nice break from the heat, but there are still warm summer days left to enjoy.
Stay cool and stay well!