“Ah summer! What power you have to make us suffer and like it.” — Russell Baker
Happy Summer Solstice! The longest day of the year.
And hello, first day of summer, astronomically speaking. We’re on track for one of the hottest days in the Chicago Region this year. Our local WGN weather bureau forecasts a high of 99 degrees and a heat index in the triple digits. Whew! Not a record, but close enough to make a little shade sound good.
We need rain. Despite this, the prairies overflow with flowers.
As I hike three prairies across two states this week, I chant the wildflower names to refresh my memory. Scurfy pea.
Bumblebees work the white wild indigo as the air hums with humidity.
Ants explore goat rue.
There are so many insects associated with these prairie wildflowers! So many insects unfamiliar to me. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.
I pause to admire a dragonfly, performing his balancing act.
I love the male twelve-spotted skimmer; one of the easiest dragonflies to remember. It looks just as you’d expect from the name. As I get older, and my recall is less reliable, I’ll take any low hanging fruit I can get.
And don’t get me started on the juvenile birds…
…which may look different than their parents.
I spot my first buckeye butterfly of the season. Those rich colors!
Then I puzzle over some wildflowers whose name I struggle to remember. I snap a photo with iNaturalist, my phone app.
Wild four o’clocks! A non-native in Illinois. And this one?
I have to look it up with my app, then revisit Gerould Wilhelm and Laura Rericha’s Flora of the Chicago Region when I return home. Venus’ looking glass is a weedy native, but no less pretty for that.
Well, at least I can identify these mammals without an app. No problem with the scientific name, either.
I love the juxtaposition of the bison against the semis on the highway. A reminder of the power of restoration.
All these wonders under June skies.
So much waiting to be discovered.
Hello, summer. Welcome back!
Russell Baker (1925-2019) was a columnist for the New York Times who won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, Growing Up. He also followed Alistair Cooke as the host of Masterpiece Theater.
Join Cindy for a Class or Program this Month
Wednesdays, June 22 and June 29: “100 Years Around the Morton Arboretum” –with Cindy and Library Collections Manager and Historian Rita Hassert at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. Enjoy stories of the past that commemorate this very special centennial. Join us in person June 22 from 6:30-8:30 pm (special exhibits on view for 30 minutes before the talk) by registering here (only a few spots left!); join us on Zoom June 29, 7-8:30 p.m. by registering here. Masks required for the in-person presentation.
Hi Cindy, What a beautiful post this morning! Thank you for your weekly dose of the natural world.
I was wondering if you might be able to help me with a reading recommendation. I have been invited to be the first artist in residence for The Wetland Initiative http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/. One of my inspirations is to use the format of ancient Egyptian fresh floral collars found in the grave goods of ancient kings.See attached research paper. Amazing!
I’m going to create mine in textiles and stitching. Do you have any recommendations for books about wetland flowers, plants and berries for Illinois? There must be some crossover between the prairie and wetland flowers too I’m sure. Any recommendations would be most appreciated! Happy Solstice. Lindsay
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Hi Lindsay! Congratulations, how wonderful. Newcomb’s Wildflower field guide is a good one for just about everywhere; if you don’t have the iNaturalist app on your phone, I’d add that pronto—it’s terrific. Good luck and have fun! Thanks for reading and for sharing your good news. Yay! Cindy 🙂
Thank you for celebrating summer for/with us! And the photo of the bison with the semis in the background is a really interesting contrast.
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Bison are so much fun, aren’t they Paula? Happy trails and thanks for reading! Hope you have a good week ahead. Cindy 🙂
Thanks again. I love being able to visit the tallgrass prairie tho I’m far away from it. It has my heart for sure.
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Thanks for reading, Cynthia — I’m glad you can visit virtually, even when miles away. It’s truly our “landscape of home” isn’t it? Hope your week is wonderful! So glad you dropped me a note. Cindy 🙂