If I had Wings

If I had wings I would want them to be sturdy and small

not big and showy.

Spicebush Swallowtail?

I do not want to be defined by my wings.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail/ Papilio polyxenes asterius

I want to be known for my flying.

“Common Clearwing”/ Hemaris thysbe

I need wings I can count on in a storm.

Not delicate colorful things that keep me grounded.

My wings need strength, with strong ribs and veins.

So that I can fly when I need to fly.

I want some rainy-day wings to lift me up and out to a new place.

Hummingbird Moth on Verbena bonariensis

I do not wish for beautiful wings, I need useful wings.

FLOW

A Girl’s Gotta Eat

I was out chasing flyers today.

I found many butterflies,

dragon flies,

and wasps.

I am glad I spotted this nest before the wasps spotted me.

I was pleased to see a Hummingbird clearwing/Hemaris thysbe in the mix.

Upon closer inspection, the clearwing was not pleased.

It was being eaten by a Green Lynx Spider/ Peucetia viridans.

This is the exact location I find a “Mama Lynx” every summer.

I hope I can witness the making of the egg sac and the hatching of spiderlings again this year.

Stay tuned for more wings.

FLOWER

The Colors of Change

The colors of August are the warning colors…yellow, orange and red.

They are the colors of change.

The heat cannot continue.

The blooming must cease.

It is time to set seed

and harvest the crops

and prepare for a change.

There will always be change.

Beginnings and endings.

Births and deaths.

Slowing and stopping.

August is a time of change.

A crescendo of colors.

When the brights cannot get brighter.

The light must dim. Life must dim…and slow…and stop.

Only to begin again at another place…at another time.

A Slower Flower remembering our precious Melissa

The Queen and the Cactus

The surprises just keep coming here. This post was supposed to be entitled ‘Catching a Queen’ but something else happened out there in the dark last night. I would have missed it, but I assigned Mr. Flower night duty. I went out around 9:30PM to catch the late bloom of the “Queen of the Night.” I caught myself dozing while waiting. I knew if I fell asleep, I would have no blood by morning due to the mosquitoes.

I asked Mr. Flower to catch later photos when he finished watching television. This was a fortuitous move because when he went out late in the night, he noticed that his fifty-year-old Giant Cactus (given to him by his grandmother) which is beside the Night Blooming Cereus was ALSO blooming that very same night.

So here we go with the Queen and the Cactus blooming side by side. It was not a full moon, just a 50% quarter moon. The two plants must have been communicating. They are touching each other and tied to the same deck pole.

Here is the Queen alone at 9:30PM. Click to enlarge.

Notice the base of the large cactus to the left.

Here are side by side photos and Queen late in the night. Cactus left. Queen right.

Cactus bloom open
Queen bloom open

Cactus side view left. Queen side view right.

THIS is what makes my heart sing. Catching a Queen and a cactus blooming on the same night. My thanks to Mr. Flower for the assist. This Flower needs her sleep!

Flow

Missing a Miracle

I had been paying attention to my Night Blooming Cereus plant.

Its buds and elongated days ago. They turned up like pipes earlier than expected.

I knew that the eight buds of this ‘Queen of the Night’ would open soon.

I missed it last night. I went to bed early. I got up at 1:30AM to get water. It never occurred to me to go out and peek over the deck railing.

Spent blooms of Night Blooming Cereus/ Queen of the Night/Epiphyllum oxypetalum

When I saw the white skirts of petals this morning I knew I had missed it.

Seven blooms have opened. Tears were shed.

This plant bloomed for the first time ever, two days before my precious daddy died. https://floweralley.org/2020/07/14/queen-or-angel/

There is still one bud unopened. I saw something curious through my tears. Three NEW little buds.

This plant has never bloomed twice. Maybe that is the miracle. Maybe I did not miss it after all.

Flow

Hastily Clipping a Caterpillar

I did not mean to disturb my big, green friend. I was trying to prevent Mr. Flower from getting a head injury while mowing under the Vitex Agnus-Castus/Chaste tree. This tree is also called a butterfly tree. It has lovely purple blooms.

I rushed under the tree with my clippers. Mr. Flower complains if my plants interfere with mowers and air conditioning units. I have to be ever vigilant in my trimming.

I did not notice the big, green caterpillar until I was placing branches on the burn pile. It looked similar to the “tomato horn worms” I find every year, only it was larger, had fewer markings and was more of a wintergreen than a bright green.

Copper Underwing Moth Caterpillar/ Amphipyra pyramidea

I had to do some research to identify my new friend. It is a Copper Underwing Moth Caterpillar. I have never seen one before. I hoped I had not wiped out a rare insect with my hasty clipping.

I tried to remedy my wrong by placing the chopped branch back in the tree. Hours later the foundling was still stubbornly clinging to its dying branch. I was fearful that it would wither up and die with its perch.

After almost twenty-four hours of worry, I finally noticed it had moved onto a higher branch in the tree. What a relief!

Now I will watch and see if it is there to munch or go through metamorphosis.

Flow

Floating Houses on Fontana Lake

I live on a lake formed by the damming of a river. I know what mixed feelings that causes. The lake is lovely, but below lies the farms and towns that were sacrificed. It reminds me of the children’s book, Letting Swift River Go by Jane Yolen.

The crafty folks around the new lake came up with the idea of floating houses back in the 1950’s. The idea started as fishing shacks with holes in the floors. Then folks decided to upgrade. It seems the land on the new shore was too expensive to purchase, but a house on the water was affordable.

I have read that there are now over 1,800 floating houses on the Nantahala. I guess if you don’t like your neighbors you can just raise anchor and move. There is no deed, just permits and fees and many rules and regulatons.

I love to imagine staying aboard a gently floating home. Sitting on the decks feeling the breezes, hearing the slap of fish jumping. seeing the heads of turtles bob up for a bit of air. It is a dreamy scene.

Let’s pretend we are picking out our own floating house.

I cannot decide. I guess I will just stay on land with my flower gardens.

FLOW

All Aboard

Our family rode in an open-air car on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad this Saturday. It was ideal for me because I could sit, stand, walk around and breathe fresh air. (I am still afraid of catching Covid.)

Our steam engine #1702 pulled us along the banks of the Nantahala River.

Steam and kudzu

There were folks riding the river on rafts and in kayaks.

Old farms and barns dotted the landscape.

Many structures were about to be swallowed by kudzu. (an invasive weed)

This is the oldest house in Swain County. It is the deHart house with a fascinating history. It’s hard to separate fact from fiction about it.

We had an hour stop at the Nantahala Outdoor Center as we waited for the passengers who rafted down the river to catch up to the train.

We had some entertainment in route. Mountain man Tim dropped by to tell stories about the Mountains and the Cherokee. His attire was worth inspection.

Brakeman Montana also visited our car to answer questions about the train and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

Our family thoroughly enjoyed the ride up and down the river.

Diesel engines pulled us back.

Stay tuned for the floating houses on Fontana Lake.

FLOW

The Tiny Train Universe

I am a miniatures enthusiast. You may have picked that up from my fairy posts. I totally lost myself in the Model Train Museum at the Smoky Mountains Railroad.

The walls were lined with every type and size of model train imaginable. The middle of the huge building had train towns set up and running. Whistles were blowing, lights were flashing and tiny people were in action.

Everywhere I looked there were little scenes set up of events. It was a dynamic diorama!

There was a tiny policeman pulling over a reckless driver.

A forest fire being put out by firemen. Oh, I hope those two are okay!

A drive-in movie was being enjoyed by its tiny audience.

A mechanic was fixing his itty bitty delivery truck…

See what you can find in the following photos.

I was so carried away looking at the tiny trains that I almost missed my ride on the real one.

Rose wanted to ride the train as part of her graduation celebration. We are here a few months early. No pressure Rose. You got this girl!

Stay tuned for our adventure aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

ALL Aboard!