Thursday, June 23, 2016

Report on the neighbors' doings #phenology

This morning's cool dawn brought at least four does, one with a fawn, to the fields behind the house. Sight's like that are one of the nicest ways to start a Summer's day.

whitetail deer in Summer's field
whitetail deer in Summer's field
Photo by J. Harrington

Yesterday the dogs and I finally confirmed that at least some of the milkweed plants in our fields are developing flower heads, although the monarch butterfly we saw in the afternoon had landed on a hairy vetch plant until our photography efforts disturbed him/her and he/she flew away. It occurs to me that as much as I enjoy seeing monarchs, fawns are definitely cuter to watch than are caterpillars, even the one in Wonderland. A probably useless but fascinating note about milkweed is that the local yak herd won't touch it (poisonous, bitter sap?). Their pasture has been gnawed to the height of a putting green except for the milkweeds, which stand tall and untouched. Who knew yaks were so discriminating, especially since Frances Densmore, in her Strength of the Earth, notes the Ojibwe used parts of the common milkweed as a source for food and medicine?

milkweed plant with flower head
milkweed plant with flower head
Photo by J. Harrington

Yesterday also brought confirmation that there are at least two hummingbird pairs nesting nearby. Both females arrived at the nectar feeder simultaneously. One stayed, the other left and came back later. At least that's what I think happened. This no doubt helps explain where all the fresh nectar I put out earlier this week has been going. I didn't noticed that one of the hummers was still drinking from the feeder as I started to bring it in last night. That "started" the hummer whose take-off then "started" me. Better to be startled by hummingbirds than bears, I say. Now if we could just get the goldfinches and rose-breasted grosbeaks to improve their table manners and not make such a mess with the sunflower seeds and hulls.

Milkweed

James Wright


While I stood here, in the open, lost in myself,
I must have looked a long time
Down the corn rows, beyond grass,
The small house,
White walls, animals lumbering toward the barn.
I look down now. It is all changed.
Whatever it was I lost, whatever I wept for
Was a wild, gentle thing, the small dark eyes
Loving me in secret.
It is here. At a touch of my hand,
The air fills with delicate creatures
From the other world.


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