The pollen is hanging heavy these days, attracting the gatherers. There's plenty of bees buzzing around, alongside some more unfamiliar sights -- metallic green-gold flies, a black bee with tan breeches, a rain-soaked bee, rain-drop buds, and an admiral in camo and stripped antennas.
Here's a medley of images, mostly from September, but that didn't find a place in posts last month -- patterns of light and shadow, and a couple insects that caught my fancy. I'm not sure what either of them are, though I'm guessing "katydid" for the green one. In any case, that one had the most amazing antennae. They look to be twice the length of the body. The one looks shorter, but that's only because it was moving -- "feelers" would clearly be another good name for them, as the insect very gently and rapidly checked out the area all around with them.
When my brother was in town for a visit this summer, he spent some time musing about childhood experiences he'd like to share with his own sons. One memory was of running through grassy fields and hearing many grasshoppers whirring away in all directions.
I wish he could have been along last week when I walked up to the prairie plantings on campus and heard the dry patter of grasshoppers launching off, so many that it sounded like a brief hard rain shower.
I also had to think of him another morning when I checked out the cone flowers pictured above. I discovered a grasshopper sluggish enough in the morning coolness that it didn't jump and I was able to get a photo. And then I spotted another, and another, and another, all shades from grass green to traditional grasshopper brown. And they were all in nearly the same position, sunning their backs.
This one is for you, Don. How many grasshoppers can you spot?
This was a good week for a trip down to the calendar garden, where the summer flowers provided bright splashes of color -- and so did the insects. One image that didn't make it into the camera is the many blue dragonflies helicoptering over the pond. And another is the golden eyelid on the frog sunning himself on a lily pad. There was plenty of other color, though, and the intricate lace of a golden dragonfly's wings.
This one is for my friend Josh, who loves studying insects. I haven't a clue what some of these are, though I'm fascinated by the different patterns on the bees. Is this normal variation, or several different varieties? I'll have to check with Josh.
Here's a bouquet of little things I've seen along the millrace bike path in the past few weeks. There have been lots of big, light-filled scenes -- magnificent clouds, reflections in the water, sun on the trees. But quietly, easily missed, are the tiny blossoms (and bugs!) at the margins. (It's hard to tell scale when I am cropping closely, but all these blossoms are less that a quarter's size.)
Fall is here, hard as it is to believe that today, with the temperature hitting a high of 97. It may feel summer-hot, but we've made the turn into fall. Everything seems to be going to seed, or doing its best to soak up all the sunlight in can. Autumn is in the air -- and so are the geese. And harvestman and daddy longlegs are both delightful names for the same creature, which is not actually a spider, despite appearances.
What we notice and what we don't notice. This hemlock is in our backyard, pretty much straight out from my study window. A couple days ago I was standing in my study, talking on the phone, and idly looking out at the backyard. All at once my attention was caught by something in the tree, near the top on the left. At first I thought a plastic grocery bag had gotten stuck in the branches. But it didn't move with the breeze.
It reminded me of a nature walk I'd been on with a naturalist once. He was showing us the fruits on a large bush, and as we looked, my attention moved from the surface layer to much deeper within the bush, and I suddenly noticed more fully a gray shape that I'd only been vaguely aware of while looking at the fruit. It was a paper wasps' nest, an elegant structure with an entrance at the bottom and eaves at the top. The naturalist enthusiastically explained how the wasps gathered near those top openings in hot weather, fanning their wings to cool off the nest.
And as I looked at this object, I realized that I was looking at another paper wasp nest. It's full of bald-faced hornets, a type of wasp. In the right light, they have blue, iridescent wings. The nest is far enough from the house that we'll probably leave it till winter -- the hornets die off with the first hard frost.
We're wondering how quickly it grew. From our perspective, it appeared overnight. But more likely it has been there for awhile, and we just never noticed. And at this particular moment, the light was at the right angle, making it more visible, rather than it blending into the shadows as I've discovered it does most of the day.
I wonder what else is out in my backyard, that I just haven't noticed yet?
The world is a blooming, buzzing place these days. I haven't managed to capture a photo of the hordes of tiny bees hovering around my ninebark bush, but I was more successful with this visitor to an unknown wildflower along the bike path this morning,
I have no idea what these wildflowers are either or why they produce bubbles. They have a little white flower, but I wouldn't have noticed those mysterious bubbles, or the balloon-like base and the way it caught the morning light, if I hadn't been ready to slow down and see what there was to see with a closer look. It's so easy to go walking past the many tiny marvels that are out there.
And from our neighbor's tree, here's one I do know -- and I can make a pretty good guess why it was named a tulip tree. I'm not sure how many years I lived next door to this tree without noticing its crazy spring blooms, though.
While there were still golden remnants from last fall in the Calendar Garden this week, spring is also tiptoeing in, with yellows and purples -- witch hazel tassels, a few timid windflowers, more crocus, and lots of excited bees. The saying "busy as a bee" must have come from someone watching spring bees at work -- a still photo doesn't begin to capture the energy.
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.