Here we are in November already.
Our beautiful wildlife garden holds onto a few lingering coral honeysuckle flowers, as if it knows a stray hummingbird could pass through at any given moment. Our maple trees have already dropped their leaves and the squirrels are raiding the bird seed feeders as if winter has set in. I feel like this is a time to give thanks for all the wonderful things we experienced this year.
Where has the year gone so quickly?
It seems like just yesterday we were tip-toeing through the woods looking for early spring flowers to photograph before their brief blooming season passed us by. My brother and I would spend hours and hours peeking under the damp leaf litter searching carefully for delicate trout lily and squirrel corn blooms. Every trip to the woods was like a treasure hunt. We enjoyed every minute of our outdoor adventures and added many new species to our photo collection.
And sometimes we were surprised to find salamanders or skinks hiding under the leaves.
When Wayne’s wife Christina cleaned old oak leaves from her spring flower bed in April she found tiny caterpillars just waking up from their winter slumber….Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly babies….the first ones we had ever seen. It was a thrill to finally nurture and hand-raise this particular species to document the life cycle. Their mother had left her precious eggs in a cluster of violets the previous year, and the tiny newborns snuggled under those same violet leaves through the winter. Wild violets are the host plant for this butterfly. They have an amazing and precarious life cycle….taking a whole year to complete a single brood.
Our summer garden struggled through several months of drought and intense heat this year.
Even our cone flowers and other hardy natives were put to the test. We gave extra attention to keeping our bird baths filled and hummingbird feeders cleaned. We limited most of our nature outings to the early morning hours in the woods and captured photos of critters we had never previously seen.
And now autumn is upon us and we feel it is a time to reflect on this year’s adventures and give thanks for new discoveries….elusive butterflies, skinks, salamanders and mossy-cup acorns to name just a few.
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