A beautiful early-evening, late-summer full moon

A beautiful early-evening, late-summer full moon

The first half of the month of August was unusually cool—not the weather you would normally expect for this time of year. I kept telling folks that it will probably all change soon and don’t be surprised if we get some hot days before the end of the month. I’m pretty careful about making any predictions about the weather these days but surely there must be some August weather in August, so I stuck my neck out a little when I said the hot days will come. Sure enough, the temperature started to climb this week and it reached the low nineties on Wednesday. How long it will last is another question I can’t answer but I’m outside each morning before sunup watering the gardens and praying for rain.

All Summer I’ve been wondering where the crickets are hiding in this little valley. I hear a few now and then but not nearly as many cricket songs as there should be. I took a nice walk under the beautiful full moon last night and for the first time this summer I was serenaded by the gentle fiddles of many crickets. It was a wonderful chorus and restored my faith that they are still around.

 

Zinias and butterflies are true joys of summer

Zinias and butterflies are true joys of summer

The reason for planting lots of zinnias is twofold. Of course they are one of my favorite old fashioned flowers and their different colors are always a plus for the flower garden. The main reason for having lots of zinnias is to attract the butterflies. It’s sad that there aren’t so many butterflies around this year but those that are here in the valley all seem to show up at the zinnia beds each morning. I can’t help but wonder what kind of butterfly year it will be next year. I can’t say, but I plan on planting lots of colorful zinnias just in case.

A white-tailed deer eats the wild flowers at the edge of the meadow. I watched her from the back porch and she saw me but paid little attention. I noticed how her coat didn’t seem to have that cinnamon color it should have in the summer. The nights have been cool and I think maybe some of the deer have grown some of their guard hairs, which are light brown.

 

My humble abode is embraced in green growth and blossoms every summer.

My humble abode is embraced in green growth and blossoms every summer.

The old school house that I call home isn’t much to look at through most of the year but in August it turns into the flower house. The faded gray siding is now covered with the lush green leaves of morning glories and red runner beans. The windows are now framed with pretty pink, blue and purple morning glory flowers and the orange-red flowers of the runner beans. The path leading to the house is bordered with lavender phlox, purple, pink and white cleomes, rich red bee balm and blood red salvia. Down near the ground a row of multi colored verbena a couple patches of brown eyed Susan’s. A nicer welcome of beautiful flowers would be hard to ask for. It’s always a pleasure coming and going. Looking out my bedroom window in the early morning I can watch the bumble bees and hummingbirds flying and buzzing from flower to flower right in front of me.

It seems to be a bumper year for vines. The grape vines are growing up and out of sight. The wild cucumber is crawling over every bush it comes to and the red runner beans on the side of the house are twenty five feet long in places. I noticed a long vine of bittersweet growing up the side of the old wooden silo up the road, the berries already visible in the rich green leaves. Kind of brought the old silo to life.

 

caterpillar_eat_grapeleaves

The domestic grapes are looking pretty good but are still very green. I noticed several Japanese beetles dining on some of the large grape leaves and a quarter inch long caterpillar that I can’t identify. I’m hoping that maybe one of my readers can help me out. It would be nice to know what this pretty caterpillar turns in to.

Down along the creek I spot the round, webbed nest of a wolf spider. Looking closely I could see hundreds of tine baby spiders inside. The mother wolf spider is always standing guard nearby and sure enough I see her about eight inches under her nest and motionless under the green leaves. I see a few of these spider nests every summer and it’s always a chance encounter.

 

A beautiful adult red-bellied snake I found in the grass

A beautiful adult red-bellied snake I found in the grass

There are various reasons I like to use a push mower when mowing the lawn. For one thing, I need the exercise and I think it does a nicer job on the grass. Also, I’m always on the lookout for anything in the unmowed grass in front of me like frogs spiders and snakes. Yesterday I stopped the mower when I saw a small snake in the grass in front of me. I caught the little red-bellied snake and put him out of harm’s way. The little nine-inch-long snake is actually a full-grown adult, and has a beautiful bright red belly.

Most of the robins and rose-breasted grosbeaks have already left the valley and I miss their songs. It’s an early sign that summer is winding down—I know the first signs of autumn are just around the corner.

Till next time – get out and enjoy the summer while it lasts.

Naturally Yours,

Dan