A Time To Give Thanks

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.

coral honeysuckle blooms

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.

trout lily – an early spring wild flower

spring beauties

Squirrel Corn

And sometimes we were surprised to find salamanders or skinks hiding under the leaves.

Jefferson salamander

Broad-headed skink (male)

 

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.

Great Spangled Fritillary caterpillar

Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly

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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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for this uplifting photo montage Judy…especially the pics of those lovely spring beauties that will return again in the distant future… Next year I am determined to find the fritillary caterpillars that I know are out there – despite lots of violets, leaf litter and wide-open eyes, I have only seen adults here, not the cats. They must conceal themselves well…
    Ellen Sousa recently posted..Use Your Weeds! Violets as Groundcover

    • says

      Hi Ellen! We’ve been hand-raising butterflies for more than 10 years and this was the first and only time we ever found the caterpillars . . . sneaky little critters :)

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  1. [...] 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.  [...]

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