Are you wondering what a parterre is? Don't speak French?
A parterre is a symmetrical garden, often with roses or perennials and boxwood hedges. They're meant to be viewed from above, to better appreciate the pattern of the design, but I preferred the ground-level view of this still young planting.
I've been watching this one take shape for a couple years now at the local horticultural park. It was nice the other day to find that the park system had reached the final stages of restoring this treasured part of the many display gardens at Deep Cut.
I think the view will be gorgeous in the wintertime from the top of the hillside by the rockery - the weeping hemlocks there laced with snow - and the curving lines of the boxwoods in the parterre outlined in white, too.
A pic of the parterre from two summers ago is here. I can't imagine how much nicer it'll be two years from now.
It's the Spring of your life, I laugh at your foolishness, protect you from danger, make sure you grow and glow with health, practice and play until...
It's the Summer of your life, What a beauty you've become! You've (almost) grown into yourself, You live at full tilt, with a passion for life.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
It all started innocently enough. Heartbroken and dog-less for the first time in 12 years, we found this adorable pup to ease our lonesomeness. He's brought joy and a good amount of laughter, but also a sense of déjà-vu; that we'd done this all before, that we know all the pitfalls, have fallen for these same tricks and devilment sometime in the past. There is no better way to forget, or remember, than a puppy.
I imagine I'll always think of them linked this way; the leaving of one so close to the coming of the other. Today is Luka's Gotcha-Day and this past Friday marked a year since Buddy passed away.
Dogs, especially old dogs, are a treasure. They are more than themselves, they are us. Part of us. They live our life, are the calendar of our joys and sorrows. We run our fingers through our past when we caress their broad chest and velvet ears.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
In the Autumn of your life, you grew more sedate; your troubles so far in the past, I'd almost forgotten the Spring of your life. Your colors still vibrant, but a tinge of silver frosted your muzzle and foretold...
The Winter of your life, your eyes as clouded as a December sky, You passed as gently as snow falling on frozen fields. I weep now and remember all the seasons of your life and the years of mine that you carried away with you.
Summer has its windows open: listen to the crickets and smell the thick breath of the sea. There's not a cloud in the sky and miles of warm sun-scented beach ahead. We could walk for hours... leave our shoes on the boardwalk, skip stones by the jetty, trace our dreams in the sand.
That magic place where the sea meets the sky... I want to look at it forever, watch the slow progression of waves and listen to the dune grasses strum, laughter carried across beach blankets, the laughter of gulls rivaling ours, that old longing in me now so familiar as the waves roll in.
My sense of time and distance is lost to the lullaby of the surf, to an egret stalking the salt marsh on angel's wings, the beckoning breeze and its thoughts of you.
Take my hand, stay for a moment, taste the sea's kiss on my lips.
For Vicki's Saturday Shopping Challenge this week, I thought I'd try my luck at one of the U-Pick places. Other than apples and pumpkins in the fall, there's not much local for picking yourself, so the DH and I drove an hour or so west to a U-Pick farm that I used to visit occasionally to buy greens for the bunnies.
Collecting our buckets for picking felt something like standing around in the international arrivals terminal at the airport; I registered at least five different languages being spoken. Apparently, many farms and CSA's in the area are catering to the 1.5 million immigrants that make their home in NJ by growing produce from around the world. At least 2/3 of the farm fields today were planted with vegetables that were unrecognizable to me: African eggplants like Kittaly and Bitter Ball, greens like Sour Sour and Callaloo, Thai peppers and eggplants. Judging by the carloads of families there picking, I think I must be missing out on something good... and according to the manager of the place, more traditional (less ethnic) vegetables rot in the fields because (white) people are too lazy to spend a day picking them, so they've made a business of planting what can't be found in most supermarkets.
Potatoes and onions were ready today and I recognized them, so that's how I spent my $20. A bucket of red potatoes went for $10 and I had the most fun digging them out of the dirt. Has anybody else ever pulled a warm potato out of the sandy ground and been amazed with the way things grow? Very cool.
I'm easily amused, I know.
A dozen or so big sweet onions went for $4.18 and the DH grabbed some odd melon from the farm stand on the way out and we called it a day for $20.17.
I'm thinking of French onion soup and mashed potatoes. Lots and lots of mashed potatoes.
Like a ten-year old, I love the county fair. I love the lights and the clowns and the racing pigs. The blue-ribbon vegetables on display, the 4-H girls and their horses, the masses of people waiting in line for deep-fried twinkies (ick!)... it's an absurd scene and I just can't get enough of it.
I used to do a lot of my Master Gardener volunteer hours at the fair. I'd go every day and stand around watching the people go by. I had to stay in a little booth most of the time, under a sign that said, "Have a garden question... ask a Master Gardener!" Can you imagine the crazy questions people would dream up to ask? I loved it though, loved to talk with complete strangers about what it was that was killing their prize dahlias or whatever. I'd sneak away for ice-cream or lemonade or zeppoles and to pet the horses or visit with the 4-H bunnies.
I like to watch the kids on the rides, too. Tonight I laughed at a mom with her little son on the kiddie roller coaster, shaped like a dragon or an earthworm maybe; she was screaming right along with the rest of the kids.
I'm trying to think of an excuse to go back again tomorrow...
The garden is planted with the best of intentions each year; seedlings artfully arranged by height and shade tolerance, careful rows of tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, peppers, a small colony of sweet basil, off to the side a rambling mass of cucumbers and squash.
This abundance is always reduced in the same manner. Lettuce and cabbage are the first to go (rabbits) followed by broccoli and kale if we braved them. The cucumbers and tomatoes are pruned early by something too young to know better (groundhogs) but grow vigorously to fruit until they ripen and are sampled yet again (squirrels). The peppers and basil are ignored (thank heavens for that), but the squash is ravaged (mystery bugs) and the foliage repeatedly eaten down so that there's nothing to shade what's growing below and the squash ends up sunpocked and dirt encrusted.
Every year we try again, build the fence a little higher and hope the critters might go for a neighbor's garden instead.
The tomatoes, if I get to them before the squirrels, are sublime. Just this week I did a little quality control work with the first couple ripe grape tomatoes. I love them and could make a meal of it, no washing or cooking required. We plant so many that it gets to be hard to keep up with what ripens each day. Always a nice thing to have too many sun-warmed tomatoes; nicer still is the watching and waiting for them to be red and ready for picking.
I visited a client today who didn't have a single chair in the house. A big flat screen TV and a nice car in the driveway, but nowhere to sit.
No table either, but then that would require at least one chair, I guess.
The #1 Social Worker rule when making home visits is never to sit on any soft surface.
You can use your imagination to sort out the why.
The #2 Social Worker rule is to have an exit in view at all times.
Laugh all you like, but this was about the extent of my training on *how to conduct home visits* without bringing home bed bugs or getting kidnapped by a psychopath.
These rules usually find me doing business in the client's kitchen. Today's kitchen had a couple bicycles, a washer/dryer combo, and the most fabulously neat collection of shoes I've seen yet. In the kitchen that had no table or chairs.
I wanted to ask, but it felt really rude... where do you sit to eat? Where do you sit to put on any of those fabulously neat shoes?
There was no couch, either.
Oh! I also visited this lady... remember the one who likes to call me over and over and leave the same exact message a dozen times, at three-minute intervals, on my voicemail? Very, very nice lady who lives in the most awful of neighborhoods. Very organized, too, apparently. Her kitchen didn't have a table either, but the fridge was covered with post-it notes. As was part of the bathroom mirror and most of one wall in her bedroom. In big block letters on one of those post-its was my name and phone number. Next to it was my business card, labeled also in big block letters, "CASEWORKER". Next to that she'd printed out my field and office schedule.
Explains a lot though, probably.
Mind you, I'm not making fun exactly... just sort of pondering what to do with these glimpses into other people's lives and homes.
... carrying, in the clips of its feet, a slim and limber
silver fish, a scrim of red rubies on its flashing sides.
from The Osprey, Mary Oliver
The ospreys in the neighborhood have been very conspicuous the last week or so; I think this year's young have just fledged.
I watch their cell tower nest while I wait for the light to change or the train to pass. My view is better, closer, while waiting on the train, but it lacks the perspective the other side of the intersection offers. From there I can appreciate how massive the nest is and just how precariously it's placed.
They drift by my car on their way to the river or over the backyard on their return, the fish face-first in golden talons. Last week, two dark bundles with checkerboard wings outstretched, awaited delivery. This morning the nest was unoccupied and the sky taken.
Our last day in the Adirondacks (three weeks ago already!) was the best weather-wise for a visit to Whiteface Mountain. We'd waited around for a couple hours for the clouds to clear, visited a few favorite bug-infested spots, and then made our way to the toll road entrance at the bottom of the mountain. The weather board didn't have very promising news: zero visibility and a balmy 52 degrees at the summit.
Many years, the little stone building there has a wonderful collection of moths in attendance, including Luna moths, but there were none this year. I'll never forget the time we watched a little chickadee carry off a Luna twice its size.
;-) The views of balsam and spruce going up were lovely; we'd stop every couple turns around the mountain, add a layer of clothing, listen for birds and pile back into the vans. Scott found a nice patch of Clintonia for me, also called Bluebead Lily. A poor picture of a very pretty little wildflower. The higher we went, the more the clouds encroached on us. At this point, some of the group hiked the rest of the way to the summit; us really bird-oriented people stayed behind and listened for Bicknell's Thrush.
;-) Our view from the summit: somewhat disappointing considering how far one might see from this spot. I did manage to spot a speck bird that turned itself into a Bald Eagle; that was nice to add to the trip list! The obligatory group photo at the top of the world.
Trip List (compiled by Scott):
Birds (1st # indicates the # of days recorded/2nd # indicates highest daily total or estimate):
Canada Goose (4/30) Wood Duck (2/4) Mallard (4/6) Ring-necked Duck (1/2) Hooded Merganser (2/8) Common Merganser (2/2) Ring-necked Pheasant (1/1) Ruffed Grouse (1/3) Wild Turkey (3/3) Common Loon (1/1) American Bittern (1/1) Great Blue Heron (4/15) Black Vulture (1/2) Turkey Vulture (3/x) Osprey (3/2) Bald Eagle (1/1) Sharp-shinned Hawk (1/1) Cooper’s Hawk (2/1) Broad-winged Hawk (2/2) Red-tailed Hawk (3/2) Am. Kestrel (1/4) Killdeer (2/5) Ring-billed Gull (4/4) Herring Gull (2/1) Rock Pigeon (4/x) Mourning Dove (4/x) Chimney Swift (4/18) Ruby-throated Hummingbird (3/4) Belted Kingfisher (2/2) Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (2/12) Hairy Woodpecker (2/3) Black-backed Woodpecker (3/3) Northern Flicker (4/5) Pileated Woodpecker (3/2) Olive-sided Flycatcher (1/2) Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (2/2) Alder Flycatcher (2/2) Willow Flycatcher (1/1) Least Flycatcher (2/5) Eastern Phoebe (3/2) Eastern Kingbird (2/2) Blue-headed Vireo (3/12) Red-eyed Vireo (4/15) Gray Jay (1/1) Blue Jay (4/x) American Crow (4/x) Common Raven (4/3) Tree Swallow (2/4) Barn Swallow (4/12) Boreal Chickadee (1/2) Black-capped Chickadee (3/6) Red-breasted Nuthatch (3/20) House Wren (2/2) Winter Wren (3/12) Golden-crowned Kinglet (2/10) Ruby-crowned Kinglet (2/4) Eastern Bluebird (4/6) Veery (2/2) Bicknell’s Thrush (1/5) Hermit Thrush (2/10) American Robin (4/x) Gray Catbird (2/4) Northern Mockingbird (1/2) European Starling (4/x) Cedar Waxwing (4/14) Nashville Warbler (3/20) Northern Parula (3/14) Yellow Warbler (1/2) Chestnut-sided Warbler (3/5) Magnolia Warbler (3/10) Black-throated Blue Warbler (3/6) Yellow-rumped Warbler (3/15) Black-throated Green Warbler (3/8) Blackburnian Warbler (3/12) Pine Warbler (3/4) Palm Warbler (2/3) Blackpoll Warbler (1/4) Black-and-white Warbler (1/2) American Redstart (2/2) Ovenbird (3/8) Mourning Warbler (1/3) Common Yellowthroat (4/10) Canada Warbler (1/2) Scarlet Tanager (2/2) Eastern Towhee (1/2) Chipping Sparrow (4/x) Field Sparrow (1/1) Savannah Sparrow (2/8) Grasshopper Sparrow (1/2) Song Sparrow (4/x) Lincoln’s Sparrow (2/5) Swamp Sparrow (3/15) White-throated Sparrow (3/x) Dark-eyed Junco (3/10) Northern Cardinal (1/2) Indigo Bunting (2/3) Bobolink (1/4) Red-winged Blackbird (4/x) Common Grackle (4/x) Brown-headed Cowbird (2/x) Baltimore Oriole (1/1) Purple Finch (3/5) Red Crossbill (1/1) American Goldfinch (4/x) House Sparrow (4/x) 105 species
Butterflies: Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Black Swallowtail Cabbage White Pink-edged Sulphur Summer Azure Great Spangled Fritillary Atlantis Fritillary Silvery Checkerspot Northern Crescent Question Mark White Admiral Viceroy Northern Pearly-eye Common Ringlet Monarch Arctic Skipper European Skipper Indian Skipper Long Dash Hobomok Skipper Common Roadside Skipper
Mammals: White-tailed Deer Woodchuck Snowshoe Hare Eastern Cottontail Eastern Chipmunk Red Squirrel Gray Squirrel
It's hot like an oven here today and I was tempted to spend my $20.00 on a pitcher of lemonade and a beach pass, but instead went to the Asbury Park Farmer's Market. It's not much of a market really, just two farmer's selling fruits and vegetables from the back of their trucks, plus a middle-aged couple with organic jams and relishes. Still, my $20.00 went quicker than it did far.
I bought a couple white potatoes (boring!) for $1.50, 6 ears of white corn for $2.00, a small mountain of string beans for $3.50, some corn relish for $7.00 and a little jar of sugar plum jam for $6.00. I've never had sugar plums or sugar plum jam, but the images of snow and cold were welcome today so I bought it just for the novelty.
So now I have this odd assortment of things that are just screaming to be served with a big juicy steak. Only I don't much like meat.
Next weekend I plan to spend my $20 driving out to the middle of nowhere (for NJ at least) to a great U-Pick farm. I'll make out good there, I'm sure.
Please stop by Vicki's for a peak at her Market Day post.
This post is not at all about my hair, I promise. Except to say that I can remember my mom curling it with rags and an iron for holidays. She did this to me; trained it to misbehave like it does now, passed down this curse of curliness.
I've been looking through old photos the past couple days and, as often happens, I'm moved to write by something I find among them. My memory was tickled by images of platinum blonde hair and blue eyes, the cheesy baby-teeth grins, sun-touched skin, one of my brothers often with his hand in mine, a mind and body always moving and full of ideas; the daydreamer I am so obvious then.
I search in the mirror for that little girl now. I want to tell her that she has many gifts to offer and that fine things will unfold for her. She'll need reminding one day that she's a treasure, that she's loved and cherised beyond words, that she's smart and capable and that it'll all be ok, no matter what happens.
Somewhere along our journey in life, many of us lose our resilience or forget that we are loved, that we're not too much, that the world will carry and hold us and keep our hearts safe.
I don't know what there is to bring back the feeling of being held in the most generous, open-handed of care as when we were children, but I believe that a part of our hearts spends a lifetime trying to get back to that beginning, back to that feeling of self-worth and total acceptance. And that joy; simple and uncomplicated.
There's a certain joy about dogs that I think maybe cat people don't get, or not as fully as the rest of us. I look at this smiling pic of Spencer (our boot camp mascot from the Adirondacks trip) - wet and smelly from rolling around in the bog - and I can't help but smile myself. He had a small army of admirers in us and was a good tonic during the quiet times or when some of us (me!) were feeling cranky. I like the company of a dog in the woods or a walk on the beach and I've missed the quiet, well-behaved sort of companionship that an older dog provides since Buddy died last summer. Luka is fun on walks, but he's not quiet enough for birds yet and insists on being the center of any attention with his goofiness. His specialty so far is comic-relief. (He's doing donuts on the bed as I type this!)
Anyway... it was fun to have Spencer along and he was properly spoiled by us all. Someone was always sneaking him a bite of lunch or quietly cajoling him into some mischief.
He made himself a favorite photographic subject of mine and would often follow my attention on a particular patch of wildflowers (here, bunchberries) with his own sort of joyful attention. Like a good dog, Spencer did a lot of rolling in stuff.
That rolling around and looking cute was a ploy of his and he used it to his advantage whenever possible. How can anyone resist a three-legged dog having so much fun?
Don't let the doleful expression fool you - that's another ploy! He's just trying to get you close enough for a splash.
One of my favorite pics from the trip - I think Linda's smile says it all. She's a dog person, obviously. She gets it.
I spent a little time yesterday poking my camera into some of the living rooms and sleeping porches in the tent city at Ocean Grove. I'm there at least once a week with work, but usually avoid the maze of one way streets around the Great Auditorium and instead ogle the old Victorian homes on the other side of town. It's a great little shore oddity and one that I remember visiting as a kid. My dad brought me for Sunday services in the huge open air Auditorium back when a blue law banned cars in town on Sundays.
The town was founded as a leisure-time retreat by Methodists and descendants of those founders still come to Ocean Grove to sleep in tents for the summer and to pray by the sea. There's a hundred-some tents and they're laid out within inches of one another in rows around the auditorium. A more permanent structure makes up the back of each - with electric and plumbing! - and the front of the tent is reserved as a sitting/sleeping space. They're very cute and not nearly as rustic as one might imagine.
Vicki at A Mark on My Wall which, coincidentally, is one of my favorite blogs in the neighborhood, posted a challenge a couple weeks ago to see how far $20 would go at a local farmer's market. Up for a challenge, but not so much the shopping or cooking part, I thought I'd play along and see how far that $20 would get me in local produce that didn't require much fussing before tasting good.
Jersey tomatoes are just in and will be sublime in another couple weeks. The four I bought today for $6.13 (ouch!) don't have much flavor, but mixed with garden-grown basil and my splurge for the day - locally-made mozarella - just under a pound for $8.81 and drizzled with olive oil and a dash of sea salt and black pepper made me very, very happy this evening. Once the supply increases the prices will go down and there is nothing finer than a Jersey tomato, let me tell you! Our growing conditions are perfect for them here, tho we have to wait until August for the really delicious and juicy ones that we make into kitchen sink sandwiches with lots of mayo and pepper. Heaven between two slices of bread!
I was hoping for corn, but there was only Georgia sweet corn for 49 cents an ear. Too steep for my budget today. Last week I bought nice Jersey bi-color corn that I made into corn salad with red peppers. Yummy. Sweet corn should be available by month's end and is creamy, tender and scrumptious. I know quite a few people who can make a meal of it all by itself. Not me; it doesn't agree with me and I have to limit myself to just one ear, preferably on the BBQ. Mid-July is only the start of farmer's market season here in NJ, so there wasn't a great variety. Greens are in season: kale, collards and swiss chard, but I think of those primarily as bunny food, so discounted them for today. Beets are local and cheap - just $1.89 for a nicely sized bunch. I love fresh beets, but don't often go to the trouble to stain the kitchen or my hands purple with making them. Steaming-hot and drenched with butter is the way I like them best, but today I mixed them with some red onion and raspberry vinegar and fresh-squeezed orange juice for a cold salad. We'll see how that turned out tomorrow once it's had a chance to pickle a bit.
The real story locally is the berries. These are the most local of berries, grown in the farm fields just off my backyard, and they sit on the bushes until they are at the peak of ripeness and flavor. There are red, purple and black raspberries, as well as blackberries grown out there and were it not for the deer fence surrounding the fields, I think I would raid the bushes on my walks with Luka. I bought a pint of red raspberries for $4.99 and a pint of Jersey blueberries for $2.99 and cooked them gently with sugar and poured the sweet mixture over some vanilla ice-cream. The leftovers will be added to plain yogurt mixed with honey and some granola or eaten anytime I walk through the kitchen!
All that's missing until the late summer is peaches. Jersey peaches should be available at farmer's markets by next weekend. California peaches are sweet and juicy now, but I passed on them today in favor of NJ produce.
If you're a stickler and do the math, you'll see that I went over budget and spent $24.81. I could have left off the raspberries in favor of being under budget, but I just love them too much! I don't think my money went very far today, but as I said, it isn't quite the season of abundance here.
If you're up for the challenge, I imagine Vicki may be doing this in the weeks to come. Maybe you'd like to join in the fun. Why not at least stop by her place for links to see how others spent their $20? Or read about her adventures as a docent at a zoo in Chicago? Or her home-away-from-home in Florida? Really, her blog is great... stop in and say hi.
There are days when the office feels like a nuthouse and others, like today, when it's almost a nice place to be. Of course the weather was gorgeous and the thought of sneaking off to the beach occurred to me more than once (it's Friday and payday, after all) but I was glad to sit at my desk and make some headway, one ear listening to Justin Nozuka and the other to the silly raucous banter that goes on during a typical Friday.
Because we social workers all have different field days, the office dynamic changes from day to day depending on who's in. Fridays are a favorite office day for me; I like the mix of people. There's just 7 of us, plus the clerical staff, so it's relatively quiet, especially compared to Tuesday's when all 18 of us are there. I loathe Tuesdays: for their noise, the incessant phone ringing, the emergencies that have popped up over the weekend, my phone blinking with 25 messages after spending Monday in the field visiting clients.
This week was a crazy upside-down week for me. I got a lot done and finally got the nerve up to ask for help with all the stuff I've been behind with. Two new social workers who've joined the unit since me needed practice and were glad to have some of my work to do.
I hadn't really dealt with my voicemail messages since last Friday. I finally, painfully, listened to them all, all the way through, today at about 3. Amazingly, most of the *emergencies* of the past week had worked themselves out without any intervention on my part. That was a valuable lesson to me. Sometimes procrastination pays off.
The lady who'd first left a message over the weekend, full of so much hostility that I simply slapped the phone closed mid-message on Monday, called today to say that she had worked it all out and actually solved one of her own problems for a change.
And then she thanked me for my help.
Seven of my clients have moved in the past month (each move requiring a telephone book's worth of paperwork). Three are about to be evicted for non-payment of rent (in each case, both the tenant and the landlord seem to think I wield some magic wand to make it all okey-dokey and one wants my help in running off to Arkansas to avoid a court date). Two families have bedbug and/or roach infestations. One tenant, a hoarder, insists on my help in finding a new, bigger place in which to pile up his crap. The roof fell in on the apartment of another. A landlord complains about the expense of replacing bullet-shot windows and siding. Another's adult daughter will be released from the psychiatric hospital this month, pregnant, with no place to live.
And, no, I haven't posted this pic upside down. It was taken in the fall at the Cape May hawk-banding demo and the red-tail was twirling around in the speaker's hand, spinning in circles, and paused feet-up for my pic.
azure moss sapphire forest cobalt fern navy kelly cerulean emerald indigo tea cornflower shamrock sea denim pine midnight army periwinkle pine sky hunter steel jade tiffany olive ultramarine celadon baby camouflage turquoise
Have I missed any?
Do you know that some world languages don't make the distinction between blue and green in the same way we English speakers do?
Easy for me to imagine when looking over the photos I took. On that last day in the Adirondacks, we spent the morning hours waiting for the clouds to move off the top of Whiteface Mountain so we could make our way up. Those clouds and the shadows they moved over the forest and lakes rendered it all very beautiful in varying shades of blue and/or green.
A big can of crushed tomatoes... nice olive oil... sweet onion and lots of garlic... fresh parsley... a bit of red wine... and I had sauce! That I cooked! Without setting the kitchen on fire!
Really, it's not as bad as that, but I did have to wait for the DH to come home and open the bottle of wine. What is the matter with me that at 38 I still don't know how to use a corkscrew?
You should know that actually having a corkscrew in the house is an improvement. There was an occasion when my dad was living here and wanted wine with his spaghetti dinner. There were plenty of dusty bottles of wine around, but no corkscrew. If you could have seen the two of us and the mutilation we inflicted on that cork with a knife to get at the wine.
A co-worker who lurks here had pity on my culinary skills and emailed me his recipe with nicely detailed instructions. Which I promptly deleted in one of my *clear-the-inbox* frenzies. So Tony, would you send me that recipe again, so I won't have to improvise the next time I feel like spaghetti? Please?
It was pretty nice, btw. Needed something though.
If anyone has a nice, easy recipe they'd like to share, that would be fun, too. I need all the help I can get.
We spent all day Sunday on dirt roads bisecting land owned by various paper companies - no electrical or phone lines, no cell towers, nothing but miles and miles of forest. I'd about had it by noontime, when this really started to feel like birding boot camp, but things picked up and the weather finally cleared and the darn bugs gave it a rest.
Plus, there were new wildflowers and other nerdy people to enjoy them with.
Viper's Bugloss: a pretty roadside weed. That gorgeous shade of blue gives away its place in the borage family.
Scott thigh-deep in ferns trying to call in Barred Owls: no luck, but he managed to really t-off a family of Sapsuckers. They are very excitable birds!
We found a real treat late in the day; begging calls from a dark swampy place off the side of the road led us to this baby Black-backed Woodpecker. If you squint your eyes you can see one of the parents feeding it at the nest entrance. Click on the pic! We also had really nice looks at Ruffed Grouse - a hen with two chicks along the side of the road.
Dogbane was just coming into flower and drew in this Atlantis Fritillary...
and lots of Clearwing Moths which are impossible to photograph well, I think.
Prettiest bird of the day was this singing Mourning Warbler - a gorgeous and cooperative male photographed by Scott. You knew already I didn't take that pic, right?
At day's end, I guilted the others into the obligatory group shot. Note Spencer in the foreground snapping up bugs!
This video from Floridacracker of his two (!) Lab puppies reminded me of a story I'd been meaning to share, but which I haven't been able to get a decent pic to illustrate with.
Luka is a couch hog, but not in the normal way one might expect from a 100 lb. Lab. Instead he likes to perch himself on the back of the couch, in front of the window, where the view and the breeze are best. Here's an old pic of him from Christmastime in the very same pose, so just imagine the scene without the Xmas decorations and 40 lbs. more Luka squishing those cushions down.
Anyway... outside the window now is a red Chinese Hibiscus standard that had seemed to be drawing the attention of a hummingbird or two. Encouraged, I added a small hummingbird feeder to the pot thinking I would be able to enjoy close up views of the hummers at the feeder. Not so.
He's taken to barking at any sweet hummingbird that dares to feed there! To begin with he seemed confused by them, almost thinking they were a really big bumblebee, but the zooming and dashing of a curious (or annoyed) hummer is too much for him to take. He scares them all away. Silly dog!
Oh kiss me with your eyelashes tonight Or eskimo your nose real close to mine Well butterfly you landed on my mind Actually landed on my ear, but you crawled inside and now I see you perfectly behind closed eyes I want to fly with you, but I don't want to lie to you...
White Admirals were everywhere, puddling on the dirt roads and fluttering through the sunlit woods. White Admirals are considered the northerly form of Jayne's more southern Red Spotted Purple. Where their ranges overlap they tend to hybridize and keep us all guessing.