Thursday, May 31, 2012

A tiny recompense for that was taken...


WE saw the swallows gathering in the sky,
And in the osier-isle we heard their noise.
We had not to look back on summer joys,
Or forward to a summer of bright dye;
But in the largeness of the evening earth
Our spirits grew as we went side by side.
The hour became her husband, and my bride.
Love that had robb’d us so, thus bless’d our dearth!
The pilgrims of the year wax’d very loud
In multitudinous chatterings, as the flood
Full brown came from the west, and like pale blood
Expanded to the upper crimson cloud.
Love, that had robb’d us of immortal things,
This little moment mercifully gave,
And still I see across the twilight wave
The swan sail with her young beneath her wings.
George Meredith---Modern Love---
One Twilight Hour

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Several Sunning Swallows

Every year the road into the parking area at the Grand Kankakee Marsh is covered in Swallows. This year is the same as any with Swallows spreading wings, primping, stretching, and basking in the rays.

And they are ever so reluctant to give up their spot in the sun for the vehicular traffic using the road. They wait until the very last possible moment to move.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ready, Set, Fly

This guy was standing tough on the trail the other day. I was kind of glad he wasn't aiming those choppers at me.

I stopped to admire his odd coloring; that lovely gold thorax and the gold spots on his legs. A lovely fly!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are enjoying the warm days this spring at the Indiana Dunes. This one was hanging around in one spot, not too concerned about me down on the ground. It may have had a nest near by that kept it close to home.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stop and Smell the Daisies


In youth from rock to rock I went,
From hill to hill in discontent
Of pleasure high and turbulent,
Most pleased when most uneasy;
But now my own delights I make,--
My thirst at every rill can slake,
And gladly Nature's love partake,
Of Thee, sweet Daisy!
William Wordsworth from To the Daisy

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Snake!

This was a new hatchling that I found on the trail. Barely bigger than a night crawler, this little one was at risk of being trampled by joggers passing by.

And he wasn't too happy about being moved to the safety of the grass, either. But I moved him anyway as he hissed and struggled all the way.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blue Flags

I'm finding Blue Flags in places where they've never been before this year. I love how that beautiful violet (not blue) contrasts against the green of spring.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Ganders

There are two pair of geese raising babies this year on the pond of Sunset Hill Farm County Park. Here the first hatchlings glide through the weedy water between their parents---Mama in front; Dad protecting the rear.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Walk the Plank!

In the middle of a weed choked pond this turtle had found his place in the sun the other day. Some logs contained 10 or more turtles. Some ponds had several turtle stacked logs.

But this guy---the pond, the log were his and he wasn't budging for anyone or anything.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

For Frogs---not such a Banner Year so far

Last year was the best year for frogs that I have ever seen here in this area of Indiana. With a lot of rain and fallen trees, there were frogs in places where they are seldom seen, protected because vehicles couldn't travel where the frogs were.

This year has been quite dry---little snow this winter and a warm, sunny, and balmy spring hasn't provided the shelter, floods, and food that bring on an over abundance of beings that need wetlands to survive and thrive.

So there are less frogs and tadpoles this year. You can still spot a few adults. The pools and puddles still have a few tads, but not that many.    

Friday, May 18, 2012

Solomon's Seal

I love this delicately drooping plant that hides a treasure underneath its leaves. To photograph the seed pods I had to crawl on the forest ground and aim the camera up.

Apparently the name comes from designs in the tuber of the plant that look like a seal.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hurry---the Summer, like love, never lasts


THROUGH laughing leaves the sunlight comes,
Turning the green to gold;
The bee about the heather hums,
And the morning air is cold
Here on the breezy woodland side,
Where we two ride.

Through laughing leaves on golden hair
The sunlight glances down,
And makes a halo round her there,
And crowns her with a crown
Queen of the sunrise and the sun,
As we ride on.

The wanton wind has kissed her face,
His lips have left a rose,
He found her cheek so sweet a place
For kisses, I suppose,
He thought he ’d leave a sign,
that so others might know.

The path grows narrower as we ride,
The green boughs close above,
And overhead, and either side,
The wild birds sing of Love:
But ah, she is not listening
To what they sing!

Till I take up the wild-birds’ song,
And word by word unfold
Its meaning as we ride along,
And when my tale is told,
I turn my eyes to hers again,
And then, and then,

The bridle path more narrow grows
The leaves shut out the sun;
Where the wind’s lips left their one rose
My own leave more than one:
While the leaves murmur up above,
And laugh for love.

This was the place; you see the sky
Now ’twixt the branches bare;
About the path the dead leaves lie,
And songless is the air;
All’s changed since then,
for that, you know, was long ago.

Let us ride on! The wind is cold,
Let us ride on ride fast!
T is winter, and we knew of old
That love could never last
Without the summer and the sun!
Let us ride on!

In the Wood by Herbert Edwin Clarke

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Camo

One from the archives; this deer was hidden in a field of leftovers from summer's wildflowers and lifted her head as I passed.

Sometimes I'm as surprised as the wildlife that I pass. Deer blend in so well with their environment that it often takes a trained eye to spot them even when they're close. Those spots on a fawn---a perfect match for dappled sunlight. And look how wonderfully the doe's white spots and brown blend with the wildflower remnants.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Older than Old

This is my favorite plant waking up this spring. You can almost catch a fern first poking from the dirt, then lazily stretching out it's fronds one by one. Doesn't this one look like it's still a bit dozy---needs a cup of coffee, don't bother it yet?

Ferns are the most basic of plants---were some of the first on the planet. That makes them different and special. They don't depend on anything else to pollinate or breed---a bit of wind and everything's all taken care of; the billions of spores are carried off.

But just because the flowers are missing doesn't mean that the plants are not beautiful. There is nothing more entrancing and tropical than a landscape of ferns---especially in this section of Indiana.

Ferns---ancient plants unfolding in Indiana today.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tending

When I found this ant in the forest understory I couldn't see what it was so fascinated in; it stayed in this position for quite some time.

If you look closely there are two tiny aphids that the ant seems to be tending like a good nanny.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Turtle Tales

Every year I see a painted turtle in the same spot in the middle of a trail near the Indiana Dunes. The turtle is usually digging a hole or laying eggs. A few days later there are usually a batch of empty egg shells strewn about the area.

I've always wondered if she's the same little turtle mama year after year. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Blueberries

Wild blueberries are so sweet and might be arriving earlier this year. So beautiful in green and rose---don't you think?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sure Signs of Spring


THE soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings,
With green hath clad the hill and eke the vale:
The nightingale with feathers new she sings;
The turtle to her make hath told her tale.
Summer is come, for every spray now springs:
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale;
The buck in brake his winter coat he flings;
The fishes flete with new repair├Ęd scale.
The adder all her slough away she slings;
The swift swallow pursueth the flies smale;
The busy bee her honey now she mings;
Winter is worn that was the flowers' bale.

And thus I see among these pleasant things
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs.

Henry Howard /Description of Spring  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mourning Cloak

Looking like a piece of dappled sunlight fallen from the sky, this Mourning Cloak was flitting among the trees at the Indiana Dunes.

The year's abundant wildflowers have seemingly produced an abundance of butterflies that are not to be missed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fly in Wasp Pajamas

This fly apparently thinks that it's safer dressed as a wasp or bee than a fly. Sure got my attention.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Granny's Bonnets

Columbine is making quite the show this year in Northwest Indiana woods. A old, popular name for this wildflower was Granny's Bonnet. I can't really imagine a granny with such an extravagant hat.

Looks more like a crown for the May Queen to me....  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Spider Eats a Fly Among the Fairy Doom

...Fairy! Fairy! list and mark,
Thou hast broke thine elfin chain,
Thy flame-wood lamp is quenched and dark,
And thy wings are dyed with a deadly stain—
Thou hast sullied thine elfin purity
In the glance of a mortal maiden’s eye,
Thou hast scorned our dread decree,
And thou shouldst pay the forfeit high,
But well I know her sinless mind
Is pure as the angel forms above,
Gentle and meek, and chaste and kind
Such as a spirit well might love;
Fairy! had she spot or taint,
Bitter had been thy punishment.
Tied to the hornet’s shardy wings;
Tossed on the pricks of nettle’s stings;
Or seven long ages doomed to dwell
With the lazy worm in the walnut-shell;
Or every night to writhe and bleed
Beneath the tread of the centipede;
Or bound in a cobweb dungeon dim,
Your jailer a spider huge and grim,
Amid the carrion bodies to lie,
Of the worm, and the bug, and the murdered fly;
These it had been your lot to bear,
Had a stain been found on the earthly fair.
Now list, and mark our mild decree—
Fairy, this your doom must be....

excerpted from  "The Culprit Fay" by 
Joseph Rodman Drake

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Babies Have Arrived!

Aren't they cute! And quite the handful for Mama!
Born this week at Sunset Hill Farm County Park these babies are prancing around their pen today.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wildflowers for May

No picture does justice to the abundant wildflowers blooming in the woods of Indiana this year. A May Day hike through the Indiana Dunes revealed Dune after Dune topped with Lupine and Hoary Puccoon.

The Hoary Puccoon's yellow accentuates the wonderful purple of those Lupines that are so important to our endangered butterfly.

Hoary Puccoon's name means hairy (hoary) and flower that is good for dyes(puccoon). What a name for such a beauty!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dwarf Ginseng

Rare and delicately beautiful, Dwarf Ginseng is sending out balls of individual flowers in the woods of Indiana today.