Brown elfin butterflies may look like a leaf fragment whirling in the breeze above a sunny road. But look again! This tiny creature flies at mid day on a calm spring day. Time to start posting again and share with my new camera.
Life List, April 25
My first-ever Little Brown Elfin
– tiny butterfly like a flake of leaf
skirts the corner of my vision
barricading the path in the cool afternoon.
Brown little bear, it slowly slanted,
careened over like a windsurfer letting down the sail,
like a cat warming in the wan sun.
Like a movie star an elfin is much smaller
than you'd think and so much better looking
than its picture. I’ll never forget our meeting
though I was too excited to ask it
for its autograph or use my camera.
Hawks are flying today! The cool clear air has brought them and the crows are loudly telling us so. Slightly more impressive than a robin, sharp-shinned hawks are swooping in fast spirals just above the spruce tops tanking up on any small birds they might catch just before the hawks launch themselves across the bay. The crow call for this by the way is a short sharp cry,”HAWK ! HAWK! HAWK!” For the next month on many of bright blue days you may enjoy this spectacle if you are alert.
You can also go to the hawk watch page to see the daily tallies for the count atop Cadillac Mountain- or go there in person where you will find the rangers and volunteers will be only too glad to point out the various species. Don’t miss the fun!
With surprise I recognize
that summer squash is in the bag
that hits the table with distinctive sound
no more describable than the subtle taste
of this elegant vegetable lightly cooked,
lightly spiced. Clear yellow radiance of
abundance on my silver fork outshines
the hot nasturtium colors shimmering
with butterflies in the garden.
Attasquash, crookneck, Cucurbito pepo--
such dismissive and ridiculous names
for so delicate a vegetable
ephemeral in its young perfection.
Are we so beguiled by sweet young things
that we laud the strawberry and peach,
all but ignoring unassertive squash?
Ask the old and overlooked among us.
I love this week in August. The fullness thereof! Big fat bumblebees know that my squash are in bloom. Behind them, the wild goldenrods are attracting many jewel-colored tiny wasps and flies. Along the roadsides white flat-topped asters and several species of goldenrods and even silverrod are in bloom and the whole roadside flutters with spangled fritillary butterflies. In the milkweeds the Monarchs are pupating in their green jewel cases. What a wealth!
Years ago we had a very tame snowshoe hare with a white blaze on its forehead. We called it Star. Now we have a youngster with a white blaze and a similar engaging personality. We call it StarChild and we do think it is probably a descendent. When fall comes and the hare starts to to turn tweed and then white we will no longer be able to see the blaze. By then of course we claim that the tame bunny just must be StarChild.
This gorgeous lily is native to our area. They are often found in the boulder-strewn moraine fields where blueberries grow. I do worry about them as our blueberry fields are now so heavily herbicided.
Fine-grained New England granite is obdurate stuff.
Long after the glacier’s press it stands untouched
by the hot lick of burning barrens for blueberries
or the trembling flame of open wood lily at its side.
That lone splash of red draws the eye
more strongly than the brief burnt orange zap
of delta-winged Skippers, or the lazy float of Monarchs.
Drawn by what invisible force it torques the field,
the wood lily pulls bright against the rock.
This little rose pogonia is in the same family as the big showy fringed orchid I posted earlier, but this little gem is fairly common around here. Quite reliably we find it in the bog on my husband's birthday. We have been making an expedition on that day now for some fifty years!
I am amused to realize that not only do I have a mental map of where to go-- go to Scott's Landing to see the wood lilies and to Mariners Park for rhodora, I have a mental calendar as well.
Full disclosure: although I am not planning to overwhelm this blog with all the fantastic beauties I encounter, the wood lilies too are a reliable birthday treat (as are the first blueberries to make our traditional blueberry pancake birthday breakfast). So at the risk of overwhelming, here is this year's wood lily.
A week ago I saw one of these handsome ctenucha moths alight on my native holly. Today the light was just right to take a photograph of it on the native holly blossoms. These pollinators are the unsung heroes of our Thanksgiving harvest of red-orange holly berries along our roadsides. I do not care for its common name of "wasp moth" but it is a little surprising looking. My poem of last year bears out my impression that things are almost disconcertingly early this summer. I did see a fritillary this week, cicadas are singing and the first white aster is nodding in the shadows, so here we are. High summer. Make the most of it.
Wasp Moth Encounter
With a wealth like coins
the silver spangling of a fritillary’s underwing
quite seduced me
until I had sat
still among the tall white asters
long enough for
a Zen abbot of a moth
to rearrange its sooty silken robe
collar bright above the dusky panels
ink-black the eyes and probing sensitivities
– not the emerald shoulders
but the subtlety of restraint
pale whisper lines on gray
an August afternoon’s
Tucked away safely in the tall grasses at Scotts Landing Preserve is this
lovely orchid. Platanthere grandiflora is its scientific name. As if that were not riches enough for one day, the wood lilies are in bloom and the blueberries are ripening. Both the lilies and the orchid are uncommon enough that it would be terribly selfish to pick them, but the blueberries are quite another story. Do treat yourself soon if you can and come to this Island Heritage Trust preserve opposite the Causeway Beach.