Those lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer!


  Get Out SwarmsmallThat popular song sung by Nat King Cole certainly sums up my feelings this beautiful July! With my first cup of coffee I wander around the garden, drinking in the sights and smells of these wonderful cool  early mornings. As the first insects visit the flowers and dragonflies skim over my garden  pond I am entranced.
    Sounds seem to carry so far on the humid air. Just the other day the call of the first cicada made me sit up and take notice. Ah yes, that evocative sound of summer has been missing! The Green Frogs in the many wet places around have been making their odd “guitar twang” calls. Do they never sleep?! I hear them both day and night. And around the millpond the kingfishers chatter as they swoop over the water hoping to spot and catch a fish. These birds with their very large head and bill look very ungainly, but obviously this doesn’t hamper their fishing abilities.
    Also around the millpond the goslings and ducklings continue to grow. The goslings now, for the most part, have their adult plumage. The adults right now have lost their flight feathers and are unable to fly. Anybody wanting to make quill pens would be pleased! I marvel that the goslings are so blasé when I pass by, while the ducklings skim across the pond in great alarm. Sometimes it strikes me as very comical – these ducklings look like cartoon characters with legs that appear to rotate 360?! The Canada Geese hatch their broods very early in the spring but the Mallards start their families later and occasionally into July. I just saw a very young brood the other day.
    The hummingbirds must be busy raising their young as well. At least one adult female races through my yard many times a day, often stopping at blossoms, but always taking the same route. One day I saw her stop at a plant that was covered in many webs. Some kind of caterpillar had infested a climbing euonymus, but since the plant didn’t seem to be suffering too much I decided not to interfere. My decision allowed me to witness a hummingbird gathering nesting material. She builds a tiny nest on a horizontal tree branch and one of her preferred materials is webs. On another day I heard a strange “buzzing” and when I located the origin of the sound I saw a male hummingbird flying in a very curious pattern. I recognized it as his mating display. He flies very fast up and down describing a parabola and as he flies he emits a buzzing squeaking sound. The female will be nearby on a branch witnessing this acrobatic feat.
    In my garden this summer I am pleased to be host to three Garter Snakes. At first I only saw one and then I noticed two of slightly different colouring. Finally one day I realized that I was actually seeing three. One is very partial to sunning on a rock in the bog of my pond. Recently I noticed this snake must have enjoyed a sizeable meal because there was quite the bulge halfway along its length.    One of my gardening tasks was forking over the compost pile and I discovered one of the snakes nestled in the compost. Luckily I saw it before I accidentally pierced it with the garden fork. I think I’m seeing fewer frogs around the pond this year. I suppose that’s a small price to pay for the privilege of seeing these beautiful snakes. And of course  I am hoping the mouse population will be decreased as well!
    Many days recently it has been too hot to think of taking a long walk along one of the trails we are so lucky to have. But the trail through Medd’s Mountain offers an oasis of cool. Upper Medd’s Mountain is one of my favourite places. The high canopy of leaves makes it a very green, very sheltered spot. But if the day is cool enough a walk along Baxter Creek is a treat. In the wetlands right now there are masses of white blossoms: elder, Meadow Rue (Thalictrum) and Cow Parsley. The elders look like they will soon be heavy with fruit. I wonder if our forebears harvested them.  Elderberry wine perhaps? 
    On one of my walks not far from home I noticed a dark shape in a lilac bush. Closer inspection revealed a swarm of honey bees. They were all massed together hanging from a branch of the lilac. See the accompanying photo of the swarm. I knew from some reading that when bees swarm they are not aggressive because they have filled up on honey before leaving the hive. I went home to get my camera and to phone one of our local beekeepers, hoping they would want to come and get the swarm in order to populate another hive. The good folks at Trees ‘N Bees were only too happy to come and get them. They told me they had had a bad winter, loosing many hives, so having a free source of new bees was especially pleasing.
    Nat King Cole sang “You’ll wish that summer could always be here.” Now, I can understand the sentiment, but I could never wish for such a thing. That would mean doing without the march of the seasons. Never!
Get out! And enjoy!

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