The black locust tree in bloom is a magnificent sight

The cottonwood tree in bloom is a magnificent sight

It’s barely mid-June but the landscape looks like mid-July. Green foliage covers every foot of the ground. The grasses are lush and green; many are already in bloom or have gone to seed. The cottonwood trees are in bloom and their seeds are sent on the winds in little wafts of cotton. The ferns behind the house are lush green and the chest-high fronds are fun to walk through. It’s no wonder that I hear the chipmunks more often than I see them these days, lots of places to hide.

Look closely to spot the well-hidden fawn near my house

Look closely to spot the well-hidden fawn near my house

There are plenty of places to hide a little fawn. The doe licks her tiny “dear one” before leaving him hidden in the tall grass for the day. It was lucky that I spotted them this morning and so I watched how they interacted no more than fifty feet from the house. It is the fourth time in the past five years that a doe has hid her little fawn so close to my house. The spotted fawn will stay where his mother leaves him until she returns to feed him in the late afternoon. He will stand and stretch for a few seconds every 10 to 15 minutes before lying down in the same place again. She will keep him near her side wherever she goes through the night, and then hide him in a new place each morning. With any luck, the doe and her fawn will stay in the valley and I’ll see them from time to time. Even more important is that they will see me and know they are living in a safe place.

I’ve seen many signs that there are baby birds all around me. It’s not unusual to see a robin on a tree branch with a worm in her beak, just before she flies to her hidden nest in the leafy branches to feed her hungry babies. Both the male and female red-winged blackbirds are busy catching insects for their hungry babies. Some of the young blackbirds are feathered out and nearly ready to fledge.

The red-bellied woodpecker will eat of the orange, just like the oriole

The red-bellied woodpecker will eat of the orange, just like the oriole

I don’t see an oriole too often but I put out orange halves anyway. There are several other birds who like the taste of the sweet oranges. The catbirds and house finches eat them, and the red-bellied woodpeckers are carrying beaks-full of the tasty pulp back to their nest to feed their babies. Occasionally I spot a hummingbird sampling an orange. There aren’t a whole lot of garden flowers in bloom yet, so he tastes the sweet nectar where he can find it. The pretty, purple irises are among his favorites, and he also finds food in the branches of the black locust trees now that the trees are full of creamy, white blossoms. The scent of the locust blossoms fills the yard with an almost sickeningly sweet aroma that attracts hundreds of bumblebees. The trees seem to come alive with the hum of bumblebee wings. Like most of the flowering trees and shrubs this spring, the locust blossoms last only a few days before the flower peddles begin to fall like snow.

Wednesday morning I noticed a tiny moth-like insect on a leaf in the flower garden. Not sure what species this is but he was so striking against the green foliage that I had to take his picture for future reference.

Fog in the valley always softens the big picture

Fog in the valley always softens the big picture

I never get tired of the early morning when the fog still hovers among the trees. I love the peaceful beauty and the quiet stillness as the day begins in the Kickapoo Valley. I watch a pair of sandhill cranes at the edge of the corn field. They are stalking insects for breakfast while their little, flightless baby stays close to them waiting for his parents to feed him. He is growing like a weed—his size has doubled in the past week but he still has a lot of growing to do before he’s as tall as his parents.

What a beautiful setting for a small campfire Wednesday night! I took the time to just live in the moment as the moon rose full over the treetops and the fireflies twinkled all around me. For over an hour, I just sat and let nature come to me, from the distant call of a whippoorwill and the drone of the June bugs wings, to the darting silhouettes of the brown bats against the moon lit night sky. It was a perfect way to end a perfect day.

Thursday morning I took a ride along the river road as the sun began to rise above the ridge. The large stick nest built by the red-tailed hawks was barely visible through the leaves in the skyline but I could see a young hawk standing in the nest. He called out to his parents to let them know he wanted his breakfast, but waited patiently for them to return to the nest with something good to eat. His feathers have nearly grown out and he will be ready to leave the nest in a week or so, but till then he spends his time stretching and sleeping in the sunshine.

I realize how fast the seasons are turning and how important it is not to waste a day of summer indoors.

Naturally yours,

Dan