I enjoy the time I spend outdoors with the camera, but sometimes the camera doesnít cooperate with the weather. I try to do most of my camera work at dusk and dawn when itís cooler. There are times when I canít get any pictures because of moisture. If itís raining, I donít get the camera out. Sometimes the lenses will fog up because of the humidity, and thereís no sense in trying to take pictures then. The past week has been so hot that itís impossible to do anything without perspiring. If that isnít bad enough, the deer flies wonít leave me alone, and they distract me when Iím trying to be still and focus. There may be a chance to get some good pictures when the temperature is twenty below zero. It depends on how bad Iím shivering.
Iíd like to be out chasing butterflies across the meadow, but itís just too hot at mid-day and the camera fogs up when I put it to my eyes. I got a few pictures of a slightly tattered and faded yellow Swallow-tailed butterfly in the cool of the evening. So far, this summer has been kind of disappointing for seeing butterflies. Iíve seen quite a few species but not a whole lot of them. Thereís lots of bee balm and butterfly weed in bloom now, and the first of the zinnias appeared yesterday, so the flower gardens are ready for them when they come.
In spite of the 98 degree temps, a woodchuck came and sat on one of the bird feeders in the heat of the day. There was a light breeze and I think he wanted to be up off the ground so he could enjoy it. With all that thick hair, you would think he would rather stay in a cool hole in the ground. Woodchucks are large ground squirrels that are also called ground hogs.
The flower gardens in the yard are in full bloom, and the hummingbirds are busy feeding on the nectar from the many blossoms. I never use hummingbird feeders because I know how unhealthy they are for these high energy little birds. Their favorite treats are the spicy red flowers of the bee balm. Fortunately, I have several large beds of it. At times, there are a dozen or more Ruby-throated hummingbirds around the bee balm. Lots of red flowers means lots of hummers. In the meadow, the wild bee balm (bergamot) is blooming with large patches of lavender flowers that the hummingbirds also visit. These tiny birds beat their wings over 60 times a second. It is this rapid wing movement that creates the humming sound for which the birds are named. Occasionally they stop to rest and often perch in the same place. Near the bee balm I put six foot tall dead branches in the ground. The hummingbirds like the obvious perches, and itís a good way to get some photos. A volunteer sunflower is about six feet tall and the large leaves have long stems. One of the female hummingbirds likes to perch on the same sunflower stem and let me take her picture.
Early Sunday morning I watched two spotted fawns step out of the woods and into the warm sun. They were too far away to photograph but, using binoculars, I could see they were about half grown and still had faded spots. They nibbled at the Queen Anneís Lace and Daisy Fleabane that grows at the edge of the meadow. The twin fawns looked healthy and happy and still very curious about the world around them. I also heard the morning begging calls of the two young Red-tailed hawks. They, too, seem to be doing okay, and fly around the tree tops in the valley so their parents will know where they are. They still havenít learned how to hunt for themselves and depend on mom and dad to bring them something to eat. Soon they will figure out how to catch grasshoppers, crickets, small snakes, frogs and meadow voles and will no longer need the free handouts from their parents.
I love the lush greenness of mid-summer and all the life that benefits from it. All my questions of what summer will bring are being answered, and I can see that Nature is at her most productive peak as we head into August. There havenít been any questions yet as to what winter might bring. Iím still enjoying the warmth and beauty of summer and all the new life around me.
I hope everyone is taking advantage of these warm July days and being outside every chance they get. There is no better time to introduce children to all of Natureís wonders. Thereís so much to see, so much to hear, feel, smell, taste and learn. Being outside will keep alive the child in us for the rest of our days.
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