The summer-like weather this past week has been truly delightful—all you could hope for in the first week of September. Cool nights and hot days, with a touch of humidity and lots of sunshine. It all seems to balance on a soothing breeze. It's like early August when I do my outside chores before and after the heat of the day. The early mornings and late afternoons have become my favorite times of the day. There may still be fog across the valley at sunup and the cool, damp morning air has covered everything with a heavy, morning dew. The day's first bird songs come from all directions to welcome the new day. I can easily get two hours of work done and hardly realize that time has passed until the school bus goes by. The end of the day means stillness and a beautiful sunset followed by the night sounds of a million insects. The fluttering of bat wings and a catbird mewing from the Sumac. I've been pulling weeds around the phlox and often the little hawk moths hover around my head. A lovely Angel-winged butterfly, a Compton tortoiseshell, rests atop a sunflower—the last butterfly of the day.
It's hard to get me into the house on evenings like this. If I would have gone inside a little earlier tonight, I would have missed Mama Cardinal feeding sunflower seeds to her three, begging fledglings. I would have missed the Whip-poor-will that flew a couple of low circles around the garden, then landed in the yard. I would have missed nearly stepping on a very large American toad who had just jumped out from under the bottom porch step.
I've been taking a little time to collect some wildflower seed. I've been broadcasting seed through a 16-acre low meadow for the past 7 years, and it looks better each summer. This year, I'll try some seeds from Joe Pye weed, Queen of the Prairie, Yellow coneflowers, Cup-plant, New England asters, Bergamot and Blue vervain, to mention a few. I'll also collect some seed from the tall native grasses, Big bluestem and Indian grass. In time, the diversity of the meadow flora will be enhanced, creating habitat for more wildlife. As a rule, only a small percentage of the seed actually takes root and sprouts and if it survives, it may take 2 or 3 years before it grows big enough to produce flowers. The Big bluestem, a tall native prairie grass, is just now blooming here. The tiny yellow flowers are pretty, dangling from purplish-blue seed heads. Unfortunately, the frost may come this week before the seed of this beautiful native grass has a chance to ripen enough to be viable.
The prairie meadow has become a classroom of learning and hard work. I have found that real pleasure comes more from what I give to the Earth than from what the Earth can give to me.
Today it is cooler and overcast, with a steady, light rain that started just before sun-up. There will be many changes here if the frost comes in the next few days and I will look forward to telling you all about them.
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