A Walk on the Wild Side

China my pal

China my pal

It is a balmy May day today. I took the bus out to Winter Hill Farm, Ashby West Road, Fitchburg. No one was home. Good plan. I had the farm to myself for a few hours. Let China, 11 year old cat out. She loves it when I come and wants to pal around with me.  A mourning cloak butterfly flew into lilac and a yellow tiger swallowtail was seen flitting about on flowers in the front yard. It is only May and the swallowtails are here. This is early.

ladyslipper

ladyslipper

Picked up my bamboo poles, a pail with fresh composted earth and aged manure, a trowel and my seeds. And out to the Wild Butterfly Habitat I went.  Removed some blackberry bramble and cleared a small area. Put plastic down, I hated to, but I didn’t have any newspaper. Instead I put my composed  soil on top and firmly planted seeds. My hope is that the seeds will germinate and I will be able to transplant them to a better soil preparation that I will undertake over the next few weeks.

I came back to the barn and pulled up a lawn chair to sit on and ate my bagel with cream cheese and chives and drank from a bottle of water. A short while later my brother in law came out of the house. He had arrived home from work when I was up in the woods.

Jack offered me a ride on the ATV and I hitched a ride back up to the woods. This time I was headed to Frog Pond. He left me where the trail forked because there are too many rocks and boulders to cross over. Then I headed out by foot and found the trail that leads to the pond.

 

Lobilia cardinalis

Lobilia cardinalis

There with memories of the past in Lusby, So. MD, and my friend Audrey Scharmen, a writer and plant friend, I planted beloved Lobilia cardinalis. The cardinal plant likes to have her feet wet and head in the sun. I planted her in the peat moss and decayed leaf compost. I hope they make it. I have waited so long  to have another encounter with one of my favorite plants that still clings to my memories of beautiful things in my life.

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Morning nature meditations

Monarch chrysalis extended near tomato plant. Looks to be same color as fruit.

Monarch chrysalis extended near tomato plant. Looks to be same color as fruit.

Before I begin this post, I thought you would want to know that the monarch butterfly caterpillar has changed into the next stage of its life. It is now a lime green chrysalis. I think it must of happened yesterday afternoon after the sun finally came out. The morning was rainy.

Monarch caterpillar classic J shape

I photographed a few shots of the caterpillar that just hung upside down for a day. It was cloudy out and a little cooler. I wondered if the caterpillar needed sun to give it energy in order to change into a chrysalis. Then the downpour came and I hoped the caterpillar would be safe. Rain drops can dislodge an adult monarch and cause it harm or death. I was concerned about the caterpillar. Would it be safe from the elements? After all it was hiding among tomato leaves and perhaps had enough cover not to experience the brunt of heavy rain pellets.

This morning was cool, a touch of fall crisp air. Dressed in a hoodie, I went outside to begin thanksgiving morning rituals. Old growth oak trees at the end of the driveway were whispering yes, fall is coming. They communicate a unique sound when the leaves move. It is different than summer serenades. The leaves resonate this truth.  As I stood on the back stoop for a few minutes, I heard hummingbird wings behind me. It wasn’t long before a female flew in front of me; I had a close encounter as I stood perfectly still. Evidently she decided I wasn’t a flower, even if the hoodie was pink. The hummer headed toward a moist colony of black-eyed-Susan and bright pink phlox. I think of my elder friend Phyllis DeBrot when I see hummingbirds. She loves hummingbirds and always sends me cards that have either hummingbirds or butterflies on cover.

I decided to walk out on the country road. It is very hilly; I figured it would improve my endurance if I start hill climbing. Yesterday I learned from Jack (brother-in-law) that Fitchburg is the second hilliest city in the country. San Francisco is number one.  We’re out in the country and what a hill it is for cars to get up my sister’s hill. Believe me, I am buying a four wheel drive vehicle when I return here to live starting in the fall. I have my eye on a used Suburu. There is a Suburu car dealer in Fitchburg. My brother-in-law swears by his. I heard that two other friends love their vehicles too.  The back roads here are narrow and I need a vehicle that I can trust.

Pink morning glory

Pink morning glory

My nephew’s morning glories are growing profusely at my sister’s. They appear to be illuminated from within. I imagine pollinators see the inner glow. Who is not attracted to radiating light when it beckons? Hope you enjoy the photos this morning. It is taking me awhile to learn my brother-in-law’s computer system and applications such as photos.

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Even nature bows its head

I learned something new a few days ago. My sister had put fresh flowers in an antique flower base, she keeps on the kitchen table, that one of friends gave her. This was the first time I had seen the flower. Ronnie said the Latin name; she explained it was the obedient plant. She then showed me how individual flowers on a stem could be bent in any direction. It was as if the flower had joints. I was amazed because I had never seen this before. She said, “That’s way it is called the obedient plant.”

I witnessed a new discovery yesterday. I watched a small bumblebee land on wild bergamot blossoms. The bee grabbed onto a tiny extension (like a stiff string) at the very tip of the top petal. In all the years that I have gathered beloved wild bergamot for cold and flu season, I had never even seen this floral feature before. Then with patience, the bee was able to work its way into the open deep cave for nectar.

I heard the wood thrush again and loons flew overhead, even thought I didn’t see them. I could hear them. Loons have a primordial haunting song.

Ronnie had to return her grandchildren to the other grandmother, who lived closer to where the young couple live. Ronnie’s son Aaron and his wife Melissa live quite a distance from Fitchburg where the old farm ( Winter Hill Farm) is located.  It was the perfect time for solitude and aqua therapy after the hub was silenced.  While entering the pool, I saw a tiny tree frog swimming in the water. I scooped the frog up and deposited the amphibian on the cement pool patio. It was so sweet to see the frog leap away. Then I rescued a green cricket or grasshopper. Last but not least, I was able to gently scoop a nondescript moth up and land it on solid ground. The moth fluttered off.

I read somewhere that Buddhist monks would move earth worms so that no harm would come to them. Realizing that worms help make soil, I know how critical it is to ensure conditions that respect our under the soil relatives . We gardeners relish composting and mulching. Rich decaying matter can be broken down faster by worms. Isn’t it wonderful to rejoice because there is life beneath and above the soil?

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

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