The last few days have been special here around Heresaquarter because, along with July heat and some pop-up storms, butterflies have arrived. After weeks of wondering where all the large butterflies were, I have seen five species in just a few days, most of them right behind my house.
It is lovely to see fritillaries, monarchs, and swallowtails flying again. In the heat and a dry wind, they often move too fast for me to photograph. I have managed a few lucky snaps, like this one, showing the brilliantly patterned underwings of a fresh Black Swallowtail.
Less difficult to photograph, a delicate Queen Anne’s lace presented this sweet umbrella, fresh and white. If you look carefully, you will see this throne is not unoccupied. Like nearly all QAL I have photographed, there is a tiny crab spider hiding among the flowers.
Nature never disappoints.
Readers, I hope there are hidden wonders in your world. If you haven’t found the spider – look at “9 o’clock” . I hope you are well and safe – I am grateful you are here.
This has been a taxing day, in multiple ways. It felt like grace was hard to come by.
I was gifted an overabundance: Too many Zooms (4) over too many hours (also 4). Too many outside appointments (3) requiring driving too many miles (36 mi). Too many tasks (5) over too few hours (2). Too many emails (14) to respond to, dealing with kind people (6) and annoyed people (7), some of which were the same people (2). And I still have to finish my taxes (WAY too many numbers). I actually love numbers and I’ve about had it with the numbers. It feels like the number of the beast will be next.
At least the actual beasts who live in my house (4) are happy enough to share it with me. At the moment the two dogs are sleeping in their usual stacked position next to me, the younger cat is washing his face in the window seat, and the older one is lounging on his favorite blanket. I am content to breathe a minute before I go back to wrestling with tax software and fencing-by-email.
People are doing the best they can, including me. The taxes I am asked to pay will go at least in part to make sure some number of my fellow persons are housed, and fed and safe. That’s grace enough for this moment.
Readers, I hope there were grace notes in your day. Be safe and well, I am grateful you are here.
Do you have those days when you aren’t sure what you‘re looking for and you look around for a lens that might help you find it? For me, that lens is often a quote, usually found by chance in some random corner of the internet or in something I’m reading.
Today I was in a wishing mood, the kind of wishing that involves alternate realities that aren’t this one. It’s easy to do, there are any number of aspects of the Here-Now that are a degree or two (or thirty) off of perfect. And then, I came across this:
You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Well, that yanked the chain a bit.
The quote was a reminder that if I intend for things to be different, it’s time to stop wishing and start doing.
Like this tiny Sachem Skipper, time to brave the porcupine, find a flower, fly.
This is the first Sachem I’ve found this year, as the teasel have come into full bloom. Now that I’m finally looking in the right places, perhaps other treasures are next.
Readers, I hope there are treasures in your days. Stay well and safe, I am grateful you are here. Your thoughts are always welcome – they are moderated, and I do read them all!
I saw a quote sometime ago that is sticking with me – sort of the way an invisible splinter does: that poke under skin that you can’t quite see or grab and can’t get rid of, can’t let go of, can’t forget.
This is it: Go to where the silence is and say something. – Amy Goodman, investigative journalist, columnist, author
There are so many ways to understand this simple sentence.
Go where something needs to be said and say it.
Go to where someone or something important can’t speak for themselves and say it.
Go to where no one has said anything before and say it.
When no one else will speak up – say it.
Be willing to be heard and say it.
Use your outside voice – say it.
What is it you would say if you just said it? There’s someone waiting to hear it.
Readers, I hope you use your outside voice. I, for one, will be glad to hear what you have to say. May you all be safe and well. I am grateful you are here.
On these heated July afternoons, there isn’t much that will get me out onto the road beyond the promise of finding the first of the season’s large butterflies. I haven’t seen but a few this year – a fritillary here and there, one red-spotted purple, one red admiral, a comma. Finally, now, as July jump starts more showy flowers, I am starting to see more activity.
Among today’s finds were Silver-spotted skippers bouncing through the teasels and one tiny Delaware skipper on milkweed. Skippers are twitchy little things and don’t often light long enough to get an image. However, I was lucky enough to encounter a spectacularly bright and fresh Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton) fanning its wings, probably in its first day after emergence.
This beautiful creature sat in the middle of the road and let me play paparazzi all around it. First showing off its marbled underwings.
And then the brilliantly marked uppers:
This is one of two Emperor species we have here, and the less common one, so it was a delight to be able to spend a few moments appreciating this lovely visitor. Especially since, true to form, I was kneeling in the middle of the road to do it.
There are probably sillier things to do on a summer afternoon than apply knees and elbows to asphalt in pursuit of the perfect closeup of a rarely seen friend.
Readers, I hope your summer days hold some rare surprises. I hope you are keeping well and safe and I am grateful you are here.
You may recall the words of the title are in a famous poem by Robert Frost, describing the woods on a snowy evening. The poem has been interpreted a number of way. What resonates for me is the idea that the beauty of the woods is alluring and the traveler would love to explore. It is certainly not snowy here right now, but the summer woods are lovely, too.
On an overcast day, even hours before nightfall, these nearby woods are thick enough to be deeply shaded, hiding deer, wildflowers, raccoons and possums, and even a fox, now and then. There is something miraculous about just knowing they are there.
Not all the treasures there are completely hidden. On my brief walk today I was delighted to find a few ripe berries, not quite hidden.
Not even a handful, but three ripe raspberries are a treat to be savored.
Readers, I hope there are treasures where you walk today. Be well and safe; I am grateful you are here. Your thoughts and comments are welcome – they are moderated, so it can take a little time for them to appear.
I walked today after a rain, a stroll, really – I wasn’t getting anywhere fast and it left me open to those chance meetings that happen on country roads. I was watching two turkey vultures pop up off an old deer carcass in the field below the road, one was an adult, the other was in scrappy plumage, likely a younger bird. While I tried not to disturb their meal more than necessary a pickup truck pulled up next to me. The driver looked at the turkey vultures, now perched on a slanting power pole, and then back at me.
“That’s some big birds,” he remarked.
A few minutes of pleasant conversation followed. Country gentlemen of a certain age always know what’s what. We both remarked on the gawky feathers of the younger bird and the large roost a few miles away (over a hundred turkey vultures and black vultures – they can make an impression) and then he waved and drove off. Something about the whole exchange just made me happy – maybe the simple joy of sharing human conversation with someone willing to slow down for a moment and watch a big ol’ bird.
My other conversations for the walk were more one-sided. I did not find the box turtle I’d seen the day before and had moved out of the path of an oncoming SUV. I was glad her travels had been safe. A doe studiously ignored me while grazing in the open on someone’s grass. I found the milkweed bloom moving along, but we still have a dearth of butterflies and the bees have the flowers to themselves.
Milkweed communicate with color and chemistry – the bloom has a heady fragrance that can be detected from forty feet away, sweet, pungent, a little dusty. Every flower is a tiny wonder.
This means my walk was bookended by carrion-consuming bald-headed birds with a five-foot wing span and heaven-scented bundles of barely half-inch flowers. Bounty enough for any one day.
Readers, I hope the day brought the bounty you were looking for. Be safe and well, I am grateful you are here and your comments are always welcome.
This was a day for small things. A small class for just two willing participants. A small bit of progress on a work project. And a walk along my small road finding beauty in little things.
Milkweed just before bloom. The perfection of these sleeping buds, each one no bigger than a pea, always tugs at me.
Tiny Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) – this is an introduced plant that favors scrappy soil and roadsides. It blooms close to the ground and I just happened to see the clump of about half a dozen minuscule orange flowers near a powerline pole. I think I amused several drivers of passing cars while leaning over the guardrail to apparently take photographs of weeds and gravel.
The last is another introduced plant so lovely I once cordoned off a fifteen foot section in the middle of my front yard so the kid mowing my lawn wouldn’t cut them: Deptford Pinks (Dianthus armeria), or – as they are (perhaps not surprisingly) also known – Grass Pinks.
The flowers are less than a half inch across, but are prolific seed producers, so they can spring up in large patches. But who would mind a yard full of these pretty fuchsia faces?
On a day of small steps forward, these riches are enough.
Readers, I hope your days bring you the sweet small treasures that make you smile. Be safe and well; I am grateful you are here.
Summer is rising and we are enjoying the longest days of the year in the northern hemisphere. As spring gives way to summer, flowers give way to fruit. I found the first ripe raspberry of the year on my walk, one tiny pearl of distilled sunlight. The roadside crop will be slim this year – road crews cut the canes last fall and these bushes bear on second-year wood.
Nature has no interest in my plans or expectations, whether I’m looking for berries to sprinkle on my cereal, or thinking that an afternoon shower will hold off long enough for me to finish my walk. And sometimes defying expectation goes to truly astonishing lengths.
This is the base of twinned locust trees, skirted with poison ivy vines. The trunk on the right rises straight and solid. The one on the left has a large open crack that you can see all the way through and it runs at least five feet up the center of the trunk. If I told you that one of these trunks ends in a dead snag and the other in a relatively healthy crown, you would expect the cracked tree to be dead. It is not.
Somehow the crack hasn’t stopped the crown from growing and whatever struck the top of its twin did not stop this tree. I don’t know what is holding the tree together, and luckily, it is not dependent on my understanding. It just stands and doesn’t worry how.
Nature had a bit of a laugh at me today. I think she deserves her fun.
Wishing you peace upon the solstice and cheers to all who father, mentor, coach, and create families with love on Father’s Day. Keep safe and well; I am grateful you are here.
I’ve done it now. It seems that making pasta has become more than a few one-offs.
Yesterday I ran into some late afternoon hiccups at work and at home that led to taking a walk to relax and then running home to wash off a potential poison ivy encounter. Since I was already home early, and in need of a little solace, I did what we always do in my family – I decided to cook.
And I decided to cook pasta. From scratch.
There is something decidedly therapeutic about creating a well in the flour and then swirling a fork through the eggs in the well to slowly incorporate the flour. The feel of the dough, stiff to fold and press is different than bread. It reaches an elasticity that is smooth and resilient.
While the dough rests, you can decide on the sauce. And then at the end of the rest, you roll. And roll and roll. And eventually, it is thin enough.
And somehow all the energy of the day has been reimagined and transformed by egg and flour into supple sheets. And you have made pasta. And it tastes good.
This is the kind of magic I could get used to.
Readers, I hope there’s a little magic out there in your world. I have a sense that many of us could use some tonight. I hope you are keeping safe and well and I am grateful you are here.