Thanks to recent rains, I haven't needed to carry water from the creek to the garden for a while. We sure needed a soaker here, and we got it. The downpour felt extra good because it's been so hot lately. I've lost track of how many 90 degree or above days we've had, but it's quite a few. There was even one day that the mercury rose to 100. This summer has been quite different from last year that way. I don't recall a single day in that cool, wet summer that the temperature rose above 90.
All in all, it's been a pretty nice season here in the Kickapoo Valley. The cornfields here look pretty good, and the rain will help. Sixty five miles to the north, the corn is only waist high and has dry, light green, twisted leaves. It's even turning brown in some fields. What a difference a few miles can make.
It's been a good summer for hay. The second crop of alfalfa and grass looks lush and thick. Some other pastures had turned brushy during the recent dry spell, but they will green up from the rain.
There were lots of new signs of life this past week as nature expands her families. The yard seems to be alive with Hummingbirds, as the young appear at the flowerbeds and the red runner beans. I constantly hear their chittering and their humming wings. Joining the hummers at the flowers are more butterflies than I've seen in the past three years. Even a few Monarchs have showed up.
Purple and yellow coneflowers are blooming along the road. They add a splash of color that lures more butterflies and bees. It's a banner year for the lovely white Queen Anne's lace (wild carrot) flowers, which seem to be everywhere. In the center of each saucer-sized flower there is a black spot, which is a decoy to attract pollinating insects.
For many robins, the nesting season is over; the new generation is starting to disperse over the countryside. The bluebirds too are spreading out with their new families, so they don't appear in the yard as often. However, a couple of drab-colored young Red-bellied woodpeckers have shown up at the birdfeeders this week. They haven't yet figured out how to peck open the sunflower seeds, but they'll learn quickly by watching their parents.
The first young Blue jays are also following their parents to the feeders. They squawk loudly and flutter their wings as they beg to be fed. Like the young woodpeckers, they too learn by watching how their parents get a meal.
The tiny House wrens have fledged, and already another clutch of little speckled wren eggs have been laid in the birdhouse. The young Sandhill cranes are trying out their wings this week. I can hear their parents calling—loudly—to excite and encourage them to finally take flight.
At ground level, I watch a mother Opossum lumber down a path through the tall grass with eleven babies on her back. The young cling to her long, coarse fur and go wherever she goes.
This week I noticed small Leopard frogs in the short grass in the yard. It's good to know that the spring pond is producing frogs this year; it's a sign that my little part of the natural world is healthy. As far as I'm concerned, there can never be enough frogs.
At night, humidity causes the fog to rise over the river and marshes. The full moon gives a lovely glow to the fog, as the crickets sing their goodnight prayers. I thought I'd already seen the most beautiful full moon ever, but this one, once again, takes my breath away.
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