Itís good to see some snakes now and then. Iíve been lucky to see several lately. A nice three foot-long garter snake was sunning itself on the top of the compost pile. It gets a double dose of heat as its belly is warmed by the heat given off by the compost pile and the mid-morning sun warms the rest of it.
Tuesday afternoon I decided to pull some weeds in the garden before they went to seed. I almost missed seeing a tiny five inch-long brown snake. This little guy hasnít been around long. It was so short, I nearly mistook it for a worm. A moment after I saw the brown snake, I spotted another small snake under the string beans. It was a red-bellied snake and was easy to catch, being only 8-10 inches long. I like to roll them over to see their pretty red bellies. Although this one is small, itís an adult, and probably wonít get much longer. Itís the first red-bellied snake Iíve seen this summer, which is unusual for this common snake. Iíve got a feeling Iíll see more. Thereís still lots of nice snake weather in August and September.
The lovely pink blossoms of the naked ladies are early this year, but they are always a nice surprise when I see them. Itís pretty neat the way they send up their long, slender leaves in early spring, and then, long after all the leaves are dead and gone, up come the tall stems. The flowers usually appear around the third week of August and last for a couple of weeks. Not only are they very beautiful, they also smell like the sweetest perfume, the sweetest of all the lilies.
Iíve had a guest this week. A young robin that isnít quite big enough to be on its own is staying with me. Itís amazing how much work goes into raising a young bird. I spend a couple of hours a day catching grass hoppers and crickets to satisfy its constant hunger. Itís the food the young bird needs to grow new feathers and stay healthy. The little robin is able to fly around a bit and enjoys a bath or two a day in a bath pan. It also knows where its meal ticket is and lands on my shoulder when it sees me coming. Fresh dug worms and grubs are also one of its favorites, but they are few and far between because the soil is so dry. At the rate the robin is growing, it should be on its own in a week or so.
I always feel lucky to spot a cicada. Although they are quite large, they are usually heard and not seen. Their long, trailing, buzzing calls are usually heard from high in the tree tops in late summer. The one I spotted Thursday was clinging to the trunk of a black locust tree in the front yard and crawled onto my finger to get its picture taken. Itís a ďdog dayĒ cicada, and it took three years to reach adulthood and grow its large, clear wings. Cicadas eat only in the larval stage of their lives. As adults, they are only interested in finding a mate.
A little least flycatcher has hung around for a couple of weeks. Iíve only heard its song from the thick cover of the woodsóche-bek, che-bek. Itís been spending some of its time catching flying insects that come to visit the phlox near the house.
I came awfully close to starting a fire in the old woodstove early Wednesday morning. The temperature dropped to 45 degrees in the valley, and the dampness had a chilling effect. At sunup I was out in the wet meadow trying to catch grasshoppers to feed to the orphan robin. I guess I was outside for about an hour. I realized that it was warmer outside the house than inside, so I figured it was a good time to heat water to do the dishes. I also cooked a small pan of oatmeal. The two burners on the gas stove helped take the chill off the room. I like to be comfortable when I read the morning paper. Itís hard to hold the pages steady when youíre shivering!
For an old house cat, thereís no better entertainment than a mouse. C.A.T. enjoys watching a deer mouse that comes to the bird feeder in the late afternoon. He learned a long time ago that he canít catch one through the screen. He doesnít pay attention to birds anymore, although he enjoys watching flying squirrels at night at the window sill.
There is still lots of nice summer weather ahead, so get outside and enjoy it while it lasts.
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