“Things take the time they take. Don’t worry.”—Mary Oliver
August takes its last steamy, stormy breaths.
Tumultuous sunsets send me to the porch each evening to watch the show.
An unexpected health setback means no big hikes for a while. Instead, I go for walks around the yard. There is so much to see.
Look at the determination of this insect, making a beeline for the blazing star.
I like its single-minded focus on what’s in front of it. A reminder to pay attention to what I can do, instead of what I can’t do right now.
And what’s this? A Marine Blue Butterfly sips nectar in the front yard prairie planting. Earlier, I saw one of these “rare strays” to Illinois at Nachusa Grasslands, 90 miles west. But that was on a 4,000 acre mosaic of prairies, woodlands, and wetlands, where you might expect to encounter an unusual insect. I’m stunned to see this butterfly in my small suburban front yard.
Would I have noticed this tiny, nondescript butterfly if I was busy with my normal prairie and dragonfly hikes in the bigger preserves? Probably not. Maybe it’s a reminder that “there’s no place like home.”
My sneezeweed, now in its second year, is covered with winged creatures. I try my phone app iNaturalist on them for identification, but none of my ID’s feel certain. The insect world is so big, and my ID skills are so limited.
As I walk, there’s a loud chatter at the feeders. A downy woodpecker stops mid-peck to see what all the fuss is about.
A noisy goldfinch and furious hummingbird battle over the hummingbird feeder. A water moat keeps ants from plundering the sugar water. The goldfinch seems to think the water moat is his personal watering hole. The hummer wants a nip of nectar.
The defeated hummingbird brushes by my head in a whir of wings on his way to the neighbor’s feeder. I follow him with my eyes. And then I see it.
Not a hummingbird—but a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth! Its wings are mostly a blur as it works the zinnias.
One of the reasons I include non-native zinnias in my backyard plant mix is as nectar sources for hummingbirds, moths, butterflies, and bees. I watch this day-flying moth hover over flower after flower for a long time, marveling at its downy body and gorgeous wings.
When it flies away, I check the pond for visitors. Two frogs keep watch.
Kitschy, yup. But they started life in my grandparent’s garden, and now, they attend to mine. It’s a connection to the past that never fails to make me smile.
A wasp nestles into the marsh marigold leaves. For the millionth time, I wish I knew more about wasp ID. Wasps are such a large group of insects! I believe it’s a paper wasp. You can see where the old-fashioned phrase “wasp waisted” comes from.
A Margined Calligrapher—a type of hover fly—rests on Garlic Chive blooms. The chives, much like my pink garden Chives, have popped up all over the garden and close to the pond. Such a delicate insect!
Almost a dozen Great Blue Lobelia blooms are “blue-ming” around the water, and the insects approve.
A carpenter bee seems as enamored of it as I am. The flowers are deep sapphire! So very blue.
Meanwhile, any “blues” I had have passed.
An hour walking through the prairie garden has a way of taking care of that. Even if only for the moment.
The opening quote is by Mary Oliver (1935-2019) from her poem, “Don’t Worry” (Felicity). Although much of her poetry is set in New England and Ohio, her love of nature and ability to connect with the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our lives through her words transcends geography. Read more here.
***All photos in today’s post are from the Crosby’s prairie plantings and garden in Glen Ellyn, IL.
Join Cindy for a Program or Class this Autumn
Saturday, September 24 —In-Person Writing and Art Retreat at The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL: Spend a day immersed in nature with guided writing and art workshops. Set aside time to disconnect from the day-to-day and focus on the natural world through writing and art. Sessions will explore nature journaling, sketching, developing observation skills, and tapping into your creativity. Throughout the day, you will learn from professional writers and artists, take in the sites of the Arboretum, and explore nature with fellow creatives. Appropriate for all levels. Cindy will be teaching the morning sessions. Join me! Click here for more information and to register.
Find more programs and classes at http://www.cindycrosby.com .