Walk a Rainbow Trail

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“Walk a rainbow trail; walk a trail of song, and all about you will be beauty. There is a way out of every dark mist, over a rainbow trail.”

~ Robert Motherwell 

IMG_0696We’ve had a couple of days of on and off showers, coming down in buckets, then suddenly clearing. When this happens late in the day and the sun is low, it is the perfect opportunity to see a rainbow. This one was a beauty. Make a wish!

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A Walk in the Woods

IMG_0643A walk in the woods yields all sorts of surprises. Despite the liberal application of bug spray, we were relentlessly pursued by mosquitoes as we walked the woodland trail of Graves Farm in Williamsburg, MA. Originally a family dairy farm for over a hundred years, it is now held by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Part of it is open meadow, grassland habitat for insects and birds, the other is deciduous and coniferous woodland where I took these photos.

Rattlesnake Plaintain (Goodyera pubescens)

Rattlesnake Plaintain (Goodyera pubescens)

While walking we were serenaded by the most beautiful and melodious calls of three wood thrushes echoing through the forest – like voices of angels in heaven.

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Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

As well, there is a large swamp/wetland habitat, which supports countless creatures and the assumed source of the voracious mosquitoes!

Ebony Jewelwing - Calopteryx maculata - Male

Ebony Jewelwing – Calopteryx maculata – Male

This aptly-named Jewelwing kindly paused in the a pocket of sunlight long enough for me to get a shot. A beautiful and healthy specimen due to the abundance of the aforementioned mosquitoes. His more shy and drably adorned mate hovered in the shadows, refusing to be filmed!

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There were lots of mushrooms of all sorts, most of which are beyond my identification skill set. I’m guessing that the above is a Russella. I’m not fond of domestically-raised culinary mushrooms and because so many are poisonous, I’d be too freaked out to eat wild-harvested ones. There are quite a few that are delicacies and wild hunters abound, but I leave that to the experts. Since this is a nature preserve, I am assuming that the collection of any wild plant is forbidden. 

We will definitely return to walk the trails again, most likely after the first frost has done away with the mosquitoes!

Bluebead (Clintonia borealis)

Bluebead (Clintonia borealis)

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It’s Official

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It’s official – I came across the first goldenrod bloom of the year in my spearmint bed on Saturday. In the past, this flower used to fill me with dismay because it signaled the change from waxing to waning summer, on the slippery slope to fall and winter. Granted, this was my perception, backed up by fruit forming and seeds setting. But it was simply an idea. There really is no line, no before or after. Life is a continuum of one day melting into the next in a carousel of seasons, all connected in a long spiral along the ladder of time.

IMG_0582So what changed for me? Looking at the bigger picture helped, but it was reading about the plight of bees and how goldenrod is a superfood that comes toward the end of summer. Just in time to give them a big boost to store enough sustenance to get them through the winter. Now I love goldenrod! A whole slew of pollinators from beetles to bees use this plant. I think how wonderful the perfection of nature is, that insects and plants have evolved together symbiotically. There is even a well-camouflaged, yellow crab spider that preys upon goldenrod visitors.

Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) - Wikipedia photo

Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) with prey – Wikipedia photo

Everything works as it should in nature and learning to trust that balance will be achieved, provided we don’t mess with it too much, is an understanding that I hope the majority of humans will learn very soon before it is too late. Nature has great resilience, but I feel a tipping point is upon us. There is no duality, it is not man vs. nature, we are a part of nature, and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we as a species will start to take care of this planet that is our home.

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A Global Meditation for Peace

Sundrops (Oenothera tetragona)

Sundrops (Oenothera tetragona)

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.”   ~ Ghandi

For those who may be so inclined, at Noon (your local time) Friday, August 8, 2014 there will be a world-wide meditation for peace. Deepak Chopra, Gabrielle Bernstein, India Arie and many others are heading up what they hope will be the largest group meditation on record (to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records). For more information click the link here. Register, mark your calendar and be part of the peace you wish to see in the world.

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Tightrope Walker

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On a perfect summer morning this little guy, walking along a grass stalk laden with seed, caught my eye. The light and background colors were pretty much perfect. I imagine him walking along and humming a little tune!

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Mother Nature Owns Your Garden

Song Sparrow sings from "his" Alberta spruce

Song Sparrow sings from “his” Alberta spruce

A few years ago while reading a garden anthology that featured several authors, one article by Gene Logsdon, aka The Contrary Farmer, gave me a new perspective on gardening. Up until that point, I had always viewed my yard and garden as my space, under my control, apart from Nature. He wrote that while most humans share this point of view, Mother Nature sees no delineation; all is her domain. When I realized how right he was, I had to laugh at myself for such pompous, egotistical thinking for all those years.

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Robber fly (?) with moth on mown lawn

Nowadays, I don’t try as hard to control my garden space, as to work with Nature to create my visions.  Many of my beds I’ve let “return” to Nature (again, as if they were once apart!) and it is interesting to see what perishes and what survives. Not surprisingly, the balance favors mostly natives, however, I can see how invasive species from other lands can march through and quickly take over. Things that look so pretty and innocently little in a nursery can become nightmares. Knotweed, bittersweet, goutweed, loosestrife and most of the mint family come to mind. I think nursery owners should be required by law to state a plant’s true aggressive nature!

Garden, wild field and woods - all the same!

Garden, wild field and woods – all the same!

When my garden work overwhelms me, I try to remember that I am not trying to reach a goal, but I am involved in a process that never ends and thankfully so. It is that very constancy, the ever-present creative force that we depend on. What would we do if it stopped? Yes, the weeds, slugs and aphids would be gone, but as well so would the beautiful flowers, good food and beneficial insects. What we really want is balance and the peace that comes with it.

Wildflowers replaced former lawn

Wildflowers replaced former lawn

Many times I think Ma Nature is a better garden designer than I am. Often while walking in the woods or fields, I’ll stop to note beautiful combinations of wild plants that seem artfully arranged and think how I could use the design. (Nothing new here, humans have been imitating Nature since pre-historic times.) When self-sowing plants grow in my gardens I’ll let a few stay when they complement and improve the design I laid out. I am simply a director in her domain. I know nothing is ever static in a garden – it’s always changing and evolving. The gardening process is the point and I can rest easy with that.

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A Single Grateful Thought

IMG_0247“A single grateful thought toward heaven is the most complete prayer.”

–Gotthold Lessing

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