Monday, August 31, 2009

Wildflowers in Maine

I just returned from a vacation in Maine. The wildflowers are everywhere. Goldenrod lines the roads and Queen Anne’s Lace covers the fields. It is a joy to travel the back roads and see the profusion of Black-eyed Susans, the variety of asters, and rowssunflowers. Purple Coneflowers, like those I have in my front garden, share turf with their bright yellow cousins. I was told the Purple Loosestrife that seems to pop up wherever you look is not native to the state, an invasive plant that is spreading. It is hard not to appreciate its beauty, though, even as I struggle with my own local weeds.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I Like Rabbits

I like rabbits. Some used to live under my neighbor’s shed and hop over to my backyard early morning and at dusk for a feed. But then the shed was dismantled. I wondered where the rabbits would end up. I still don’t know but I see them around so they must have found someplace local. I admit to being glad even if I can’t grow lettuce or bulbs because the bunnies like them. I’ll grow other things and enjoy the company of rabbits.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gone But Not Forgotten

The Turk’s Cap lilies are finished blooming but they will not be forgotten. As their flowers were growing, sending orange petals curling down, they were also producing tiny round, black seeds that dotted the tall stems. The seeds drop to the ground and scatter. One plant becomes many the next spring. It is a perfect example of Mother Nature being fruitful and multiplying

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nature in the Raw

There were three loud thumps against my kitchen window this morning. Birds were trying to leave in a hurry and weren’t watching where they were going. I knew what that meant – the hawk was around. I looked across the yard toward the trees. There was a lot of activity by the squirrel’s nest in the white pine. Then the hawk scorched out of the branches, its wings fully extended. Did the squirrels attack it or did it have a meal clasped in its talons? I couldn’t see and wasn’t sure I wanted to know. I was caught between the privilege of seeing nature in the raw and the discomfort of worrying about the participants in the struggle for survival.

Note: Later in the day I saw a squirrel with its neck scraped raw and a tattered ear. It looked as if it had been in a fight. Maybe it had – with a hawk – and survived!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Big Buzz

The buzzing is loud today. Not the sound of the bee visiting the Rose of Sharon but the insistent buzz of the lawn mowers all along the street. It bumps up what has always seemed such a peaceful part of summer to a noise on steroids. I wonder what the bee thinks of it all.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Busy Chipmunks

We have busy, busy chipmunks. They live under the herbs near the house. They scarf up seeds at the bottom of the feeders, stuff the seeds in their cheeks, and take off for their burrows. They are fast for such small critters, always scooting around, racing up-and-down the back steps, startling squirrels in the grass, and disappearing down holes in the ground before the vigilant hawk can grab them. I wondered how they got the name chipmunk. Then one day I heard this loud chipping sound in my backyard and saw a chipmunk belting it out, his whole body moving with the effort.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Butterfly Bush Musings

The butterfly bushes have been discovered! Tiger swallowtails air-float gracefully among the purple flowers. An occasional Monarch, too, adds surprise and color as it glides among the branches. If luck holds, a hummingbird will stop by, a hoped-for-but-not-counted-on guest. They are a treat to see, a meditation on beauty and fragility. Watching the comings and goings of these ethereal creatures helps me remember the lightness of my own spirit.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hot Days

I have been staying in my air-conditioned house lately. Too hot to garden. But I check the goings-on out back and see the squirrels running around as usual, tails up like parasols keeping off the burning sun. As the afternoon shaded the backyard, I found one of them spread-squirreled on the cooler back steps. Pretty smart, more body surface to release the heat. But then squirrels are clever…about gaining access to bird feeders…in their bulb snatching…and their seed thievery. Yup, squirrels are something else. I have to respect them even as I try to outwit their antics.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mourning Dove Ballet

The mourning doves are bumbling along beneath the feeders, as usual, coo-cooing as their heads move forward and back with each step. One chases another and is chased in return. They take off in a flurry, as if some signal had been given, scolding as they leave. There is nothing graceful about these common birds, I think, as I stare at the now empty ground, each clumsy bird much like the others. Then from beyond the roof of the house, three doves fly back, wings delicately fluttering as they land in unison on the slim metal branch that holds one of the feeders. How beautiful a display it is - a mourning dove ballet, choreographed and executed with precision. I am immediately sorry about my assessment and reminded visually that it doesn’t pay to make assumptions – they often turn out wrong.