I live in a world where the young, smooth, quick, colorful, shiny, loud, and moving is the beautiful. This is what the eye goes to, admires with lust and what the eye cannot turn away from. But this would not be able to exist under my gaze if it was not for the old, rough, slow, fading, muted, quiet and still that is around every day in every way. Just remember all that must come before so that the new can exist. It hides and usually works when the weather is very hot or very cold and may be just beneath your footfall while you are gazing at the beauty under your eyes.
The butterfly above is the Silver Spotted Skipper. I do not think the name is an accurate description of this common butterfly. I see them all over my yard and sometimes they have yellow or orange patches as the flyer above shows, sometimes they only show white. They are the largest of the skippers. The caterpillar form looks like a green exclamation point with the head being large and dark brown. They scatter their frass (poop) a distance behind them to distract and confuse wasps who follow the smell.
One thing you may notice is how large and bulbous their eyes are.
These butterflies seem to like everything that blooms in my yard, but I did read that they do not favor yellow flowers. I will have to see if I observe that. They are not wary for photographing, but do not sit still for more than a few seconds in any one place. I was most happy to capture this 'flight risk'. At night they build themselves tiny wispy shelters using cut leaves and they hang out under the leaves until daylight.
Let me share with you what gets me out of bed in the mornings. This is the time of the year when all the flowers are blooming at once and I spend much of my time staking, dead-heading, pinching, picking off bugs, removing dead leaves, watering and cutting. Busy days, but I am rewarded by these beautiful faces:
This photo has been photo-shopped and a larger version was posted on RedBubble, and therefore, probably looks better there. Anyway, one of the wonderful benefits of feeding birds all winter is that come spring and summer you will get surprise sunflowers scattered arbitrarily throughout your yard. I have tried in prior summers to plant sunflowers and all were eaten by bunnies before they even got a few inches high. The ones planted by birds somehow make it through to full bloom, although they may prosper in the most inconvenient or unusual places. This sunflower is growing right at the very edge of my driveway and I have to carefully miss it as I pull out of the garage. It is tucked just in front of my tall ornamental grasses and that may be the reason it was overlooked by hungry animals. I also have two larger sunflowers in bloom in the middle of my flower beds, one in my herb bed with the sage, one out in the garden with the blueberry bushes, and one tiny one struggling further down the edge of the same driveway. This is certainly a gentle reminder of the natural order of things. Whatever we do does come back to haunt us, so we must remember to do nice things only. I took this photo in the setting sun while waiting for the goldfinch to drop by who have also found the blooms.
(I am currently watching the goldfinch (which I do not normally see since I do not put out seeds in the summer due to fear of disease issues) land on these sunflower blossoms and pull out the unripened seeds. I keep trying to get a photo, but they are pretty shy.)
I live in the mid-Atlantic which means the summers are long and hot. This year we have had a good amount of rain which makes it easier on all the plants and animals. When a week goes by without rain in such high heat, the animals begin their search for water. There are a few springs in our woods and the deer seem to be able to get through marsh grass to those.
I have two bird water baths. One in front and one in back of my yard. Birds rely on these often, both for drinking and for bathing. Yes, they do drink their own bath water! It is fun to watch them splash and shake the droplets every which way.
I keep the bird bath in the photo above clean. Washing it with hose water and little bleach every so often, but certainly spraying it out at least once a week and filling with fresh water. We are on a well, so I do not have to worry about city chemicals, either for me or the birds.
I have read that the 3% of birds that are marine species have salt-control systems because they spend so much time away from fresh water. They can remove the excess water by using larger kidneys, oily lipids that break down in the digestive system to produce water, and salt glands that sit in bony pockets over the eyes that are important for the excretion of sodium chloride. They must cry very salty tears!