Lockdown news

Heard that St. Louis may be on lockdown next week over the coronavirus business.

So, the important news: As I was working today with the window open I heard the happy sound of chickadees. Ran downstairs and spotted two chickadees going into the wren house carrying nest materials, so we will have some residents. They build such a beautiful nest with soft leaves and mosses. Last year they raised 2 or 3 clutches. I heard killdeer flying over this morning, sure sign of spring. And there is a true bug living on the parsley plant we have inside in a south-facing window.

Garden last July, 2019
Garden last September, 2019
True bug on parsley plant in south-facing window, March 2020
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Well. The coronavirus has given me time to catch up. How quickly life is changing- all my colleagues now working from home, kids not going to school, stores and gyms closed, meetings cancelled or postponed. Everything changes- I am curious to see where all this will leave us. Dennis calls the suggested social distancing measures to slow the rate of infection in the population the ‘introvert’s revenge’, and it does, frankly, suit me and my like-minded friends who are happiest when alone.

In the natural world outside the virus: I took off the first week of March to help Dennis prep our gardens for spring. Raked up all the old leaf cover, picked up 8 yards of leaf mold and weeded and spread it over the beds. Ginger is coming up, and aquilegia, celandine poppy, wild geranium, iris, Jacob’s ladder, tradescantia. Still very young, but busting to grow as the weather warms. Forsythia and golden current leafing out.We put up the wren house and have witnessed a wren look it over for a potential nesting site. Time will tell if they move in and raise young. It would be nice if they did, since the wren will chase of some of the squirrels who love to dig in our gardens. The male goldfinches are beginning to show their brilliant yellow spring plumage and the woodpeckers are drumming out mating songs on hollow limbs and metal posts.

Went to the arboretum with my sister when she came for a visit at end of February. Things are slowly coming to life out there as well. I am grateful for these treasures to anchor me in these crazy and sometimes mean times.

River des Peres in Forest Park, November 17, 2019
2/29/2020: Glade at the arboretum in the afternoon sun
March 15, 2020: River des Peres, Forest Park
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Full moon, December 11, 2019

A marker in the strange times we live in. Would that this full moon marks a turn for the better in national and international political affairs. Though I am an avid follower of the daily churnings of news, I would have to stop if not for the natural world. Looking forward to a Christmas walk in the woods.

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Arboretum, 10/20/2019

At the arboretum we saw woodpeckers carrying acorns from a free-standing bunch of pin oaks to the woods across the way to stash the acorns against the winter months. We noticed this behavior a few years ago, and ever since have been mindful of this autumn preparation. Rich smells, warm colors.

One of many groups of Southward-flying geese we saw
Persimmons ripening but still bitter until after first frost.
This woolly worm appeared to be waiting for the sun to warm the air and dry the grass before he descended his stick of grass.
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The Cabinet of Ordinary Affairs

Our neighbors, Stephanie Schlaifer and Arny Nadler, had an open studio today, where I learned of Stephanie’s work, based on visualization of her poetry. A striking work, via the link above.

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Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars

This year we have blck swallowtail caterpillars. I witnessed a black swallowtail laying her eggs on the parsley we have planted in pots, and have kept my eye on the development of the four cats. They move from one stage to another in a matter of days, and yesterday I noticed one has reached chrysalis stage. Here are some stages of development:

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Late summer

Lacewing egg on cup plant flower (tiny white egg on stalk hanging from petal)
Ms Bumble bee on monarda
River Des Peres, Summer morning
Arboretum, August 4, 2019
Three toed box turtle
Arboretum, August 25, coneflowers getting ragged
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Precursors of fall-

Fall fast approaches. The wrens are finally done raising young, at least 4 clutches this year!- in the house hanging from the sycamore tree in the back yard. Some large creature, maybe large dog-size, has matted down the tall physotegia at the back of the rain garden and in the shade garden, our guess is to sleep there. But who? Coyote, fox, deer? Wild dog? Dog unlikely, given the feline activity around our house at night, they would’ve tipped us off to danger. The news- I have to take entire days off from reading the news so I can maintain my usual good nature. The soulless nature of it all, the embarrassment of a president who cares for nothing larger than himself. I take refuge in friends, family, home, garden. But then I read again- want to know when it becomes necessary to start protecting myself and my neighbors from the hate that is seeping into the national consciousness. The cardinal flowers are blooming- lots of blooms this year- and lots of hummingbirds moving through. Also blooming: mist flower, joe-pye weed, rose turtle-head. Oh, and Harrison Bader is back with the Cardinals- what fun to watch those guys!

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This morning as I sat on the back steps with my coffee, the male wren sang a young fledgling out of the wren house for its first flight. We’d noticed the night before lots of singing and movement by the male wren, and saw little movements back in the house and, occasionally, a little beak and head coming partway out of the entrance hole. That young’un was finally coaxed out this morning. That house has seen 2 clutches of chickadees and 2 of wrens this summer!

Sunday- There was yet another wren to come out of the house. He emerged this morning.

This summer we have not had the numbers of bees or butterflies or caterpillars or butterfly larvae we had last year. Worrisome. But today I did find some lacewing eggs and some ladybug larvae on some tall coneflowers on the west side of our house. Both insect species are there to feast on all the aphids that have taken up residence on the coneflowers.

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For the birds

Last night a big storm moved through St. Louis and weathermen and women on TV pointed at screens full of dire-looking red lines and squares on an area map while Dennis and I drank tea and listened to the sirens. I went to the basement when the worst part passed through, while Dennis, as usual, went outside to watch it. This morning I was grateful to see 3 baby robins in the nest outside our bedroom window still there, mom robin bringing them food. I’d worried they might’ve been washed out of the nest by the heavy rain. Mom Robin does all the raising by herself, apparently, I’ve never seen a partnership with a male, like with the chickadees and wrens. The boy robins are a pugilistic bunch, preferring to stick their red chests out at one another and fight in the street; guess I wouldn’t want them around either if I were mom robin.

Our wren house in the back yard has already housed 2 clutches of chickadees, and now a wren is moving in. The garden is really stunning this spring in particular- perhaps I will take a picture soon.

A few days later: I must apologize to Mr. Robin. I have in fact seen 2 adult robins feeding the young, presumably Mr. and Mrs. All 3 of the baby robins have fledged and flown off somewhere. The wrens are busy preparing a nest in the wren house, and it sounds like there are young in there already.

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