Welcoming the arrival of Summer

It arrived with the solstice on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 at 5:14 a.m. Summer. Cold beer, canoe paddling, mosquitos, more of them anyway, did I mention this has been a horrendous year for those biting cretins! Mike can stand in the same spot as I can and they fly right by him, it’s like I am glowing a bright red for them, just not fair.

Get out those non deet sprays. Summer storms, summer rains, summer babies. It’s all coming! It’s here!

Lightning from a passing thunderstorm

It’s been awhile since I’ve been sick, with the mask wearing and being careful, no one wants covid. I didn’t get that but another virus had me sweating in the middle of the night, then teeth chattering with the chills for days on end, not fun at all, there went the bottle of Ibuprofen:) It’s set me back more than I thought, lack of energy but hey, if I’m going to sit I mind as well photograph dragonflies and hummingbirds right?

We have a couple of male Ruby Throated guys guarding the feeders, one in front, one in back. When I looked carefully I realized the guy out back was here last year. His bill is deformed, from perhaps an accident, or dueling for a lady no doubt, these are macho little birds. I’ll be calling him Scarface, or a suitable pirate name maybe, Errol perhaps, it has a sophisticated ring to it! Ha! The ladies have been shy, I see them but they zip away when I bring the lens up, the boys, no.

It has been fun learning all the names of the dragonflies the last two years. I upload them to inaturalist first to check but I’m getting pretty good now at recognizing who and what they are! You can check out my page here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observationsplace_id=any&user_id=pamelaweston&verifiable=any

It is a great place to check names of bugs and flowers, everything really. They are not always 100% correct but someone will usually let you know if you get it wrong!

What gets me with the dragonflies is the males and females can look completely different, I’m learning who’s who, little by little! The Bright Green Pondhawk showed up for the first time this morning, will have to make a trip to the swamp when the sun comes back out! Have to love bugs with racing stripes!

The slower moving visitors have been the snapping turtle ladies, looking for a spot to lay their eggs. One lady turtle tore apart one of the rock gardens, goodbye flowers, for now, but I didn’t see it until the masked bandits dug up the eggs and feasted on them. Then two more ladies decided it was a lovely spot, premium real estate, nice view, soft dirt to deposit their brood so I now have the eggs covered up to keep them out of the raccoons hands!

We had a little painted turtle wandering around as well so maybe there are some wee eggs deposited somewhere else as well. Baby painted turtles are about the cutest thing EVER! We found one a few years back making it’s way to the lake.

Today doesn’t feel like Summer, I have a sweater on, it’s drizzling. We’ve been bouncing from very very warm days to ones like this, I guess it is normal, somewhere in-between would be nice! Hey, at least it’s not snowing right? No hard frost so far in June:) You can tell when you’re Canadian! Ha! No hard frost in June, or flurries! I admit the garden work has gotten away from me, we’re working on the all natural weeds and wildflowers look! What is wrong with that? The head flew off the weed whacker last week into the yonder tangle of bushes, I looked but the black raspberries tearing me to shreds had other ideas so the new one I ordered just showed up, we’ll tackle that another day, I’m beginning to enjoy my collection of daisies and milkweed! Keep checking for Monarch caterpillars!

As I read about these wildflowers and the ways they have been used for centuries by indigenous people it is truly remarkable what can heal us, and they are all around us! Well, not all certainly! The Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) for instance is a beautiful wildflower but the juice of the plant is semi-poisonous to livestock, causing blistering. So, don’t eat this one! Oils in the plant, probably present in the leaves and stems, can cause abdominal pains if consumed. When eaten by animals, the buttercups have caused diarrhea and blindness. Nasty! Yellow Salsify (Tragopogon dubius) flowers open in the morning and close by mid afternoon. The basal leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Native Americans ate the roots, which are best cooked, and are said to taste like oysters! Pilosella caespitosa or Meadow Hawkweed has, in the past, been used for healing eyesight and Bladder Campion, the young shoots and the leaves may be eaten raw in salads. The older leaves are usually eaten boiled or fried. Who knew! A whole salad bar awaits us!

Bugs wise, there have been a few bumblebees, a tricoloured and three lined potato beatles having a rave/orgy on my tomatillo plants! They were removed and asked to get a room elsewhere please! The Little Wood Satyrs are flitting about, they do dance in the woods but not sure if they are a class of lustful, drunken woodland gods. A few Swallowtails and one Luna moth. One thing missing, hundreds of Gypsy Moth/LDD Caterpillars, looks like their three year cycle is over, for now. Will have to do a bug crawl soon as well as a search for mushrooms. The ticks have been bad this year, hate picking those buggers off me! The inevitable here if you are poking about in the bush!

The Ink caps are growing in their normal spot by the base of the old maple and a ring of Golden Waxy Cap (Hygrocybe flavescens) are forming around another old maple. I thought I’d found a new mushroom but it turned out to be a type of lichen, Many-fruited Pelt Lichen, growing on the rocks, very cool. The Funeral Bell (Galerina marginata) or Sheathed Woodtuft (Kuehneromyces marginellus) behind the woodshed had a very odd olive green sheen to them, we won’t be trying those ones;) and not a single morel to be seen…sigh…one day again we’ll find some!

This Gray Rat Snake was almost six feet long when it stretched out across the lawn! It scared the crap out of Groot as he was sniffing in the rocks, he must have touched it’s tail, as it rattles it like a rattlesnake and Groot leapt up about two feet and backwards simultaneously! Missed that shot! She sunbathes regularly on the rocks, I always say hello and move on so not to disturb her. A few garter snakes have been rescued from Rocket’s jaws, as well as a frog but it has been quiet reptile wise. Once again, it was a rough cold Winter so not sure how that affects all these beautiful creatures. I’m waiting for my tree frog family to show up, I hear them, as well as the bullfrogs down at the lakes edge once it is dark. So much life.

We have a Beaver pair that come out late in the day, swim around in front of the dock having a tête-à-tête before helping themselves to some nice juicy weeds. The muskrat occasionally buzzes them before diving. I’m surprised the Kingbird pair that have built their nest on the old cedar overhanging the lake haven’t chased them off, they do pretty much that to everything else from dragonflies to grackles even the Osprey gets the gears! A new bird showed up as well, maybe it’s always been here but I just saw it, a beautiful Great Crested Flycatcher, bug eaters are always welcome around me!

Time to get paddling, waiting for a nice calm day to go explore and see if the Loons and the Osprey are nesting. No sign of the Bald Eagle but the water babies/food are not out yet. We’ll see. Working on restoring the energy levels to where they were two weeks ago. Con tiempo! I missed a few doozy sunrises while sweating away with a fever but captured this one before I got sick, Mike nudged me and said “You might want to get up for this one!” I did and then he rolled over and went back to sleep, it was spectacular. Looking forward to many more of these. Saludos amigos-hope you enjoyed the novel;) ha!

Early morning light

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