The week started out hot at 93 degrees. I thought it felt kinda good for a change. By Wednesday, though, it had dropped to 64. It was a good day for cutting thistles and other unwelcome weeds. Itís vigorous work and much harder when itís hot outside.
I inadvertently startled a hen turkey from her nest when I nearly stepped on her. I thought I was going to have a heart attack when she burst from the knee-deep grass. I felt bad for disturbing her, so I decided to do some work at the other end of the yard. With luck, she will return to her nest and all will be well. The bad part is that I left my scent trail too close to the nest. Predators and scavengers like to follow scent trails.
Pretty little barn swallows fly in and out of the open shed. I havenít seen any signs they are building their mud nests yet, but itís sure nice to have them flying around the yard. They are so truly graceful with their beautiful, long, forked tails and gentle songs, ďpi-rit, pi-rit.Ē
The recent rain and warm weather has the coats of the deer looking healthy and summer cinnamon-gold. A pretty doe grazed only 30 feet from the house this evening. She moved slowly along as she nibbled tender green stems and leaves of daisy fleabane, Queen Anneís lace and wild sunflowers, just a few of her favorites. As she moved through tall stalks of cow parsnips, their dinner plate-sized white flower tops bobbed above her. A yellow warbler came out of the thick brush and scolded the doe. When she moved on, the warbler disappeared back into the bushes. Iím pretty sure the doe has a fawn or two hidden somewhere nearby. With a little luck, Iíll see them in the next day or so.
Iíve always known that flowers donít have to be big to be beautiful, and the pretty little white water buttercups that bloom on the surface of the marsh pond sure prove me right. Thousands of their tiny white faces nearly cover the small pond completely. These lovely little blossoms are one of my favorite aquatic plants, but they only bloom for a few days each year before theyíre gone. A colorful painted turtle crosses the gravel road near the pond. She seems to be on a mission as she crawls off into the tall grass.
Out for a morning walk, a family of Canada geese stroll down the middle of a dirt road. They are busy searching for crickets and grasshoppers and donít seem to be interested in me. The goslings have grown a lot this past week. They are nearly half as big as their parents. This is one of three different goose families I saw on Tuesday along with two broods of little wood ducks.
Every spring I look forward to the drifting scent of lilacs. Sadly, the frost froze the flower buds, and they didnít bloom this year. Thatís life in the valley. Some years there are lilacs, and some years there arenít. I was in the house when I caught the first, sweet scent of mock orange blossoms through the window. The mid-morning sun had coaxed the white blossoms open to release one of the loveliest perfumes that Nature has to offer. Not only was the mock orange bush full of white flowers, it was full of bees and butterflies, all attracted to the sweet smell of Nature.
Black locust trees are the last to put out leaves. Just before leaf-out, the tree produces a beautiful show of white flower clusters that have a wonderfully sweet aroma of their own. The tree comes alive with humming bees that collect pollen from the flowers. Black locust trees are very beneficial to wildlife in the valley, but Iíd rather this particular tree wasnít growing in the yard. The tiny branches that fall from it are lined with very sharp thorns, and it is a challenge to walk barefoot near the tree. Iíve learned the hard way to be careful when walking barefoot near a locust tree.
Chickadees are shy and quiet this time of the year. Several days may go by without seeing one. In winter, they may spend all day at the feeders for a free handout of sunflower seeds, but they spend most of the summer catching insects. Itís the most nutritious food they can feed their young. In the fall, after the insects are gone, the little chickadees will return to the feeders, bringing their joyful songs with them.
I never seem to get used to the busy chatter of house wrens. There are four nesting pairs in and around the yard. Itís a good thing I put out plenty of bird houses for them to use. Each pair of wrens will produce two or three broods through the summer. Itís one reason they are so busy. I love their positive energy and constant singing. They remind me that Iím really not living alone.
I hope that everyone is planning healthy activities outdoors this summer with friends and family. The very best thing you can do for yourself is take some quiet time alone. Let Natureís beautiful colors and songs into your spirit, for these are the seeds that will grow and flower passionately in your heart.
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