meanwhile, across the run

IMG_2440In between cookie batches for Saturday’s annual music Jam, the call of the nature preserve was answered. So were Lolly and Cady, both of whom stared out toward the tree line, rolling their big brown eyes soulfully and wagging their tails each time someone with opposable thumbs walked in the direction of the front door.

Sunday, the door was opened. Summer drought and temperatures in the upper 80s laid mosquitoes to rest; no repellent was pocketed along the way.

IMG_2442I always forget what late summer does to the natives. Minnows, small bass and other fishes circle in the pools that are Cranberry Run during much of the year. This year there are clots of decaying algae to suck the oxygen from their gills. The bed has been dry for so long that purple ironweed grows below the waterline. The old quarry is diminished to a green duckweed center.

IMG_2444I pulled a muskrat trap from the bed of the stream. Its wire frame lifted with a strong coating of fertilized creekbed. Neither traps nor fertilizer are welcome in this waterway. One is easily removed, though, and went the way of garbage pick-up.IMG_2435

Leaves hang dull green and brown-edged from the trees. Twigs–whole limbs, sometimes–drop with the hot wind that puffs down the bluff into the floodplain. A willow that, even though it died some years back still hosted ichneumon wasps and other helpful predators, leaned its last before our arrival. A chunk of trunk crumbles over the path. A new bracket grows on what still stands.IMG_2431

The back field is golden under heated air open to sunshine but little current. Few insects sift through the artichokes and bullthistles. There should be so many this time of year. Their absence is sobering. It’s a relief to see a bumblebee and sulphur butterfly. I tried to take the bees photo, but all but his back legs and a bit of yellow fluff are caught in the frame to the left of a cluster of yellow flowers.

Flattened grasses indicate that somethings do rest and feed here. We get a whiff of proof when both dogs roll in scat and carry it with them back through the upper woods toward home and baths.IMG_2417

almost autumn

almost autumn and the sky squeezes blue
through the eye, guilt
from a moment of weeks; two days,
one leaf between a bible

of pages

black and white and velvet brown feet pad
through fallen leaves.
and still another falls to join them
and another still
and another still

Just a week, now, until fall; seven days and yesterday felt every bit the season. We ferried Captain John, the opossum, and Carlton, the potbelly, to Lima for an evening program in the amphitheater at Johnny Appleseed’s Ottawa Metropark. It was cold in the bottomland where the structure sits, the wind constant and insinuating.

But this is less about that than it is about earlier in the day. For the first time in weeks, in months, yesterday afternoon we worked our way to the back field. Certainly because we missed the woods and the field, the stream where it runs past the quarry and the quarry itself, but also as an introduction. And in keeping with this Merlin of a post, where time first marched backward from evening to afternoon, now there’s cause to relate a time two weeks back…two weeks and two days, not to put too fine a point on it.

This is Cady.

Cady

Anne named her for Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who, among other things, was an American suffragist. Cady came to us through the Putnam County Dog Shelter. She was abandoned in a Columbus Grove apartment not too very long after she’d birthed pups and almost certainly not for the first time, the birthing or the abandonment. The county’s dog warden, Mike Schroth, let us know about her situation, granted us the opportunity to invite her into our family. So, 72 hours after the county assumed responsibility for her welfare and 48 hours after we introduced her to Mister Bill (who gave her a sniff and then turned his back) and to the chickens (who paid her no heed at all) and to the turkeys (who took an immediate dislike to her and now pester her wherever she goes within the fenced-in area that is the animal sanctuary, unrelentingly reminding me of that Sandra Boynton cartoon), Cady relinquished her given name, Baby, and came to The Quarry Farm, new baptized.

Cady and LollySo, yesterday, 12 days after Baby became Cady, we introduced her to the wilder part of The Quarry Farm, the woods and fields beyond the fence. And again today, yesterday having proven a bounding success. With Lolly, Cady peered into Cranberry Run, braved the bridge, skirted the quarry, tore through the leaves on the main path to the back field, grazed her way across the field, padded along the ridge above Coburn’s Bottom and then back and back and back and back.

On the way, she passed, unremarked, goldenrod goldenrodironweedand ironweed

and a catalpa, alone, in the midst of the goldenrod,

catalpa in back 40

a viceroy

monarch

and a dragon.

saddlebag

Who knows what she’ll see next time, Cady, in the fields and along the stream? Or the time after that, for she’s not going anywhere, our Cady.

cady by deadfall_edited-1

Welcome home.

Butterflies beyond the heat islands

20150806_181856-120150805_151615-1There is no better cure for a bad case of the Mondays than a brisk walk in the open air. If your feet take you beyond the water cooler and out of doors to a concrete sidewalk, perhaps this virtual walk in The Quarry Farm butterfly gardens will transport you beyond your August Ohio heat island.

Late summer in Northwest Ohio means sweat that never dries, elephant-eye-high corn, even this year after months of heavy June and July rain, and the golden greens of mature plant leaves, the rich amethysts of ironweed and Joe Pye and the hot reds, oranges and burgundies of lilies, cosmos, Susans, zinnia and echinacea. The Gardener would likely list many more flora, but since she’s otherwise occupied in the gardens themselves, you are stuck with those plants that I can identify around the Seitz Family Pavilion.

Skipper

Silver-spotted skipper butterfly

Monarch under cover

Monarch under cover

Lucky for all of us, she always carries her phone. And because she does, she took photographs of the better-late-than-never butterflies that are moving from flower to flower.

Better still, she took video. So, find a park bench or an open window and take a virtual butterfly walk in the warm August sunshine. There is breeze today to keep the virtual mosquitoes at bay.

 

Our first number is, “The Dance of the Tiger Swallowtails.”

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger swalltowtail

Tiger swalltowtail

And what better image to leave you with, for today, than a giant swallowtail doing its level Lepidopteran best to pollinate every plant in the north bed?

Now go back to work, full in the knowledge that there are still butterflies in the world.

Looking for White Cat

We’ve been busy here. You’ve been busy there, wherever your ‘there’ may be. So much going on that, like me, you are in danger of missing the gold-tinged greens and amethysts of ebbing August, at least as it is here on the Quarry Farm.

I did almost miss it. We have caught a smattering of the sunsets, the kind that include that frosted-animal-cookie pink. But any noticing has been as we walked past a window or distributed hay to Buddy, Marsh and S’more or put the hens to bed. Then one of us left a door unhinged enough that Beatrice opened the front door and let the cat out.

Although we do have several cats, it was White Cat that slipped out. White Cat is deaf as are many white male cats. While there are plenty of dashing, flying and sparkly sorts of things in the outside to entertain a house cat, there are even more along Cranberry Run and in a 50-acre woods that will feast on feline. One that can’t hear a predator approach is especially vulnerable. So we looked high and low for White Cat. And as we did, we caught late summer.

Wild plums ripen

The wild plums are ripening on the nature preserve. Some hang at eye level beside the rich yellow Jerusalem artichokes and purple ironweed on the stream bank. Most plums are rose gold, but some are beginning to flush to mauve. For the first time, Steve will be able to make wild plum preserves to sell at the Quarry Farm table at the Farmer’s Market. (Warning: shameless plug for funding ahead.) Reserve your jar now through the Gift Shop!

Jewelweed, nature’s cure for the maddening itch imposed by poison ivy, is in bloom in the floodplain. The algae growth that plagues Cranberry Run, as well as most of Northwest Ohio’s waterways, is camouflaged by shimmers of sunlight that ignite the riffles. Higher up, the sun itself glows through the tired summer leaves, although the sunlight is cooling from the white hot of June and July. Better and better.

Bushel gourd on the vine

Down low, bushel gourds swell under huge vine leaves. Recent rains have brought on a good crop. The leaves have already been used this summer in a stepping stone workshop. More will be made before the vines wither in frost. The chickens and Johnny the Canada goose find this ground-level search fascinating, especially since disturbed vines yield fat, juicy crickets.

Wounded White Cat and Birdy nose

Even lower, under Buddy’s barn, White Cat is found. The roosters knew he was there; it just took the obtuse humans two days to figure it out. He has earned himself a gash under one eye and a limp, injuries probably inflicted by Buddy. Back in the house, White Cat is thoroughly sniffed before he settles himself in for a good grooming. Outside, the finches and field mice can peacefully ready themselves for the cold months. We will remember to notice.