Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Headed for the heart of Summer #phenology

We are now officially in the heart heat of Summer. Locally in abundance are:

  • humidity
  • crown vetch blossoms
  • common milkweed blossoms
  • day lily blossoms
  • birdsfoot trefoil blooming
  • deer flies
  • mosquitoes
  • bird song that sounds like rusty hinges on a screen door

swamp milkweed
swamp milkweed
Photo by J. Harrington

We also have, although not in the same degree of abundance, butterfly weed in bloom, swamp milkweed starting to bloom in the back yard's "wet spot" (after believing for a year or two these plants had been lost), blackeyed Susans flowering, hoary puccoon in flower and some white flowers that I still need to identify. What we seem to be missing, in abundance, are butterflies, especially monarchs. Maybe soon?

butterfly weed
butterfly weed
Photo by J. Harrington

We're not sure what's going on, but it looks as though we have a pair, or maybe a trio, of bluebirds working on (re)nesting in the bluebird house from which tree swallows, earlier in the season, drove a pair of bluebirds. We will continue to observe with great interest and see what, if anything, comes of it. Since tree swallows are reported to migrate as early as July, and we haven't seen any for a few days, it's possible the swallows in the nesting box have headed South. Stay tuned! Clearly we need better sites and management of the "workforce housing" for our mosquito (and deer fly) control workforce. Prosperous cities aren't the only locations with crowded housing markets.

                     Milkweed



I tell myself softly, this is how love begins—
the air alive with something inconceivable,
seeds of every imaginable possibility
floating across the wet grasses, under
the thin arms of ferns. It drifts like snow
or old ash, settling on the dust of the roadways
as you and I descend into thickets, flanked
by the fragrance of honeysuckle and white
primrose.

I recall how my grandmother imagined
these wanderers were living beings,
some tiny phylum yet to be classified as life.
She would say they reminded her of maidens
decked in white dresses, waltzing through air.
Even after I showed her the pods from which
they sprang, blossoming like tiny spiders,
she refused to believe.

Now, standing beside you in the crowded
autumn haze, I watch them flock, emerge from
brittle stalks, bursting upon the world as
young lovers do—trysting in the tall grasses,
resting fingers lightly in tousled hair.
Listen, and you can hear them whisper
in the rushes, gazing out at us, wondering—
what lives are these?


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