Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer Meadow

The trail in the rec area nearest to our house has a nice variety of terrain. My last post included some photos of the part of the trail that's loaded with wildflowers, some of which are endangered. The trail passes by marshland full of tamarack and uplands with hardwoods. There are also groups of pines and some really hilly parts that sport vernal ponds. But perhaps my favorite place is the small clearing at the north-west corner of the trail.

I have always loved meadows, with their showy flowers and brightly colored birds. I had the great pleasure of watching an indigo bunting here in the spring, and in summer the air above the meadow is full of dragonflies zipping to and fro. Black-eyed Susans and bergamot are in full swing, and the meadow smells spicy and warm.

Butterflies abound as well, and here a rather tattered fritillary is having lunch. Maybe it was a late breakfast. Anyway, it was feeding on the aptly-named butterfly weed.

But perhaps the sweetest-smelling flower in the meadow in mid-July is milkweed, another butterfly favorite, and it's easy to see why. The large clusters of tiny flowers are perfect for the whip-like proboscis of butterflies, and a bright yellow swallowtail on a cluster of purple milkweed is a sight to stop you in your tracks.

I'm not really sure what it is about a meadow that I find so appealing. I grew up on a lake and so maybe I feel more comfortable in wide open spaces. But to sit for a spell on the edge of a meadow on a warm summer day, listening to the buzzing and whirring of crickets and grasshoppers and the happy song of a catbird is without a doubt one of life's greatest pleasures.

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