It seems to me that often it’s the small things in life that really give our life meaning and stability: a beloved pet, a kind word from a friend, a pair of old, but comfortably broken-in shoes. Many people like to pride themselves on seeing the “big picture,” but I know myself I am often captivated by detail or something small. And so it is with me and nature–I love the expansive view, but my eye naturally focuses in on little things.
During one of our all-too-infrequent rains this summer, I happened to be sitting by a window listening to the lovely sound. And at that window on the branch of an apple tree a hummingbird alighted; so not only the lovely sound to listen to but something to watch! I watched with interest as she fanned out her tail, spread her wings, fluffed out her feathers and raised her head. I didn’t realize what she was doing for a moment and then it became clear she was taking a bath. She was obviously enjoying herself and would shake her little body and wings and move her head back and forth.
The other day I was walking around my garden pond (well, a converted swimming pool) when I noticed a very large and very beautiful dragonfly. There on one of the cattails she landed and then did something very odd with her abdomen. She arched the top of her abdomen and then moved the end of it along the leaf. It looked like she was laying eggs but I always thought they laid them just below the surface of the water. She moved from leaf to leaf doing this and I was able to get quite close to observe. And from close up I could see the eggs she had just laid. I could also see how she used a small appendage on her rear end to make a small cut in the surface of the leaf and then lay an egg. Afterwards the Internet was useful in identifying this dragonfly as the Canada Darner. I’m not sure I’ve ever noticed one of these before. But keep your eyes open for a large dragonfly with lightning bolt-like stripes of blue on the thorax. I think you’ll agree how attractive it is.
Even though it’s been a dry year, that hasn’t stopped robins from rearing multiple broods. With worms sheltering far underground the adult robins must have had to search for substitute foods for their young. I happened to be standing by one of the several nests they have built around my yard when an adult arrived with a beak-full of food. Something I couldn’t identify was large and dark. She tried shoving it into a baby’s mouth but it was too large and hard for the baby to swallow, even though it tried its best. She then tried to soften it by biting it repeatedly before shoving it into the baby’s mouth again. Again the baby tried to swallow it and again couldn’t manage it. This was such an unappetizing process that I left before discovering whether that mouthful ever got eaten!
Although a dry summer, many mornings have revealed a heavy dew around the millpond. One morning in Medd’s Mountain Park I watched the hot rays of the sun evaporate the dew–there were clouds of mist. Now, I was looking towards the sun but when I turned to look the opposite direction I was surprised to see nothing! How interesting it is that the angle we look at can influence so much of what we see or don’t see!
The small things of life can bring us so much pleasure. The Joe-Pye-Weed and the various goldenrods are quickly going over but the asters will soon make a display in our fields and along our roads. Don’t dismiss the small things. Get out! And enjoy!
By Glen Spurrell