Today was a special day, a very special day. I found a hidden treasure. The sweet little Bottle Gentians up in the meadow are in full bloom in spite of the dry weather. There are only about 20 plants together in a ten-foot area in the tall grass, and I would like to see them put out some seed. I thought a pail of water might help them along. As I poured out the last of the water on the parched soil, a tiny flash of snow white caught my eye. I bent down for a closer look, and parted the grass to find a beautiful treasure. All alone on a six inch stem was a lovely little Ladies' tress, a tiny white prairie orchid of the most delicate beauty. I know that meadow like the back of my hand, and I've never seen them there before today.
My restoration work has been paying off in many ways, and the little Ladies' tresses were definitely rewarding to find. Carefully looking around the area, I found two others. How long have they been asleep, under the ground, waiting to be set free? The meadow pasture had been grown over in tall, noxious weeks for 50 years or more before I started the process to restore the natural diversity it once had. Finding them was very special, and I wondered whether I had really found a treasure, or the treasure had found me.
A water snake is sunning himself a few feet from the river bank. I was able to get a close look at him before returning the 4.5 foot serpent to his watery home. He seemed fat, healthy and happy, not having any trouble finding small fish, crawfish and frogs to eat. This time next month, the snake will find a safe place to hibernate until late next April.
The first flocks of migrating bluebirds are passing through the area and they perch on the high lines and fence lines. I love that they are so vocal, because I can hear their soft-drifting whistles all day in the fall. "Chu-wi, chur-wi," or "truly, truly."
The purple and lavender summer phlox has provided a beautiful show for the past three or four weeks. Now their pretty, sweet flowers are turning to seed. The color purple will continue though, as the tall New England asters are in bloom. For the next several weeks they will add their beauty to the autumn landscape. The little narrow-leaved Prairie asters are also showing off their tiny, light lavender flowers. It's the first year I've seen them since planting some wild seed three years ago. Asters are easy to add to a natural landscape. Simple crumble up the dry seed heads in your hands, and sprinkle them on the ground wherever you want them. It may take a couple of years, but once they come up, they will always be there.
The dark yellow center of the aster's flowers must be something very special, because the bees are all over them. I enjoy getting close to the flower tops and listening to the gentle buzzing. Some buzz high, some buzz low, and together they harmonize as they work. Honey bees and bumble bees together make interesting bee music.
The bees can teach us so many primary lessons. One of the most important is the natural rhythm that is extracted from music, and music is the very best way to communicate. A nice little group of inky-cap mushrooms near the woodpile looks good enough to eat, and they are. They aren't too bad if picked the first day, fresh, but by the second day, they will turn black and not look very desirable.
Some of the big sugar maple trees in La Farge have turned hot orange, and the crisp, dry leaves are beginning to cover the ground. They crunch under my feet and rustle as they tumble over each other in the breeze. I like the earthy smell from the sun-dried blanket of fallen leaves. It's not hard to find simple beauty this time of year.
Buzzing About Autumn
One bee, two bees, three bees in the breeze
with their faces in the asters, yellow pollen on their knees.
They make their own sweet honey that easily aims to please,
and is all the buzz around the hive—the talking of the bees.
Next time you see a honeybee, or a few, get a closer look and listen to their buzzing harmony. If one bumps you on the shoulder, the hat or the knee, it's just her way of warning you that her space is all she needs.
All art ©2013 Organic Valley