It’s been a wild few hours at The Havens. It started when I walked Ruby last night, in the gloaming of the twilight or whatever. It was after dinner, the sun was going down and I slathered on pennyroyal repellent oil and we went over to the Coleman Conservation Area and walked four miles. During the course of that time, the sun painted the bottoms of the cumulus clouds pale peachy gold as they blossomed in the active afternoon heated atmosphere and boiled up just in time to catch the last rays of the sun as it disappeared behind the hills to the west.
It is such a magical time of day. The conservation area has a huge field on it, grass punctuated by old water oaks about an eighth of a mile wide and fully one quarter mile long. As the light fades behind me in the west, the field of waving grass slowly fades from brilliant green to a dusky gray topped with silver fringes where the dew has fallen on the tillered grasses. Down below the grassheads, there are thousands of shasta daisies blooming, making drifts of white speckles throughout the field. Just as the last robin squawks itself to sleep, the land bathes itself in blacks and greys and silvers where there were myriad shades of green under the blazing noonlight.
That is the moment that the fireflies finally awaken from their slumbers at the bases of the clumps of grass where they were hoping to be hidden from all the bug-eating birds that hunt the meadow. As the shadows deepen at the edges of the woods, hundreds of fireflies magically appear floating above the tops of the grass, flashing intermittently as they warm up their wings for the nights foraging along the edges of the fields. Apparently these mysterious insects have not been studied sufficiently to say what they eat as adults, most articles I have read say they probably eat pollen or nectar. If so, then the blossoming grasses must be like a huge farmers market for them, and when they get tired of that pollen glut they can alight on a nearby daisy and drink some nectar. All the while they flash their signals to each other, as completely random a light show as could be imagined.
While I was musing over how magical that field was I had a sudden flashback to my days as a quarter of a century old woman in Fairbanks, Alaska; days when I was still limber enough to go out and run or cross country ski for miles and miles and then make love all night. I used to have my husband drop me off at the corner of the Univerisity property where the ski trails come within yards of Goldstream Road. I’d hop out of the car and run the trails in to work at my lab in the Bioscience Building on the West Ridge. It was there I learned the value of mosquitoes. As long as you continued running, you could stay ahead of the swarm of approximately sixteen billion starving mosquitoes that were whining along behind you as fast as they could fly. If you got winded and had to slow down, you would be slowed even farther as you lost your focus while you were slapping the back of your neck or flapping your tshirt to get them off your back. It didn’t take long to realize that it was much better to die running than to walk any longer. Those bugs were a great motivator.
Last night as I was admiring the sun coloring the clouds in all different shades of pink and orange and yellow, I was reminded of those days on running the ski trails in Fairbanks because of the swarm of Ozarks Mosquitoes that were harrying us along the east edge of the field. They weren’t so bad in the woods, so I rotated my loops between field and woods and talked myself into completing the walk despite the many bites I was getting. Fortunately, I don’t react badly to mosquito bites so I wasn’t too worried.
There was a moment there where I contemplated how I was rather sanguine about letting the mosquitoes bite me so I could get a better bead on them, and contrasted that to many places in the world where letting a mosquito bite you is like committing suicide by malaria or west Nile virus. That reminded me of the afternoon I spent in the labyrinth pulling the weeds and cutting the grass around the rocks of the inner circle. I am sorry to report that there were a few rocks there that I could not identify as I was pulling the weeds from around them, and I am also sad to report that the rock from north Germany, which was a lovely piece of amber I collected my very own self at the tailings pile of the gravel pit near the village where my college roommate lives, is missing. I’m afraid an errant rabbit, dog, cat, or bird may have kicked it and who knows where it is lying. Regardless, it is still in the labyrinth somewhere.
So, I picked strawberries this morning, bright and early while the birds were still trying to get all their fledglings oriented, eating sunflower seeds and bathing, and discovered a box turtle about 6 inches long lying amongst the strawberry plants. We transported him to the far side of the labyrinth, and I picked 3 cups of ripe strawberries while Jim went out and exterminated asparagus beetle larvae. Then we came in the house and I made waffles with fresh strawberry topping for breakfast and now I intend to get organized and go floating.
Hope you all have a great weekend. Catch you later.