Wednesday, June 29, 2011


It's ridiculously cool today, about 10 degrees this morning, and wet, but a few days ago in the warm, the swallowtail butterflies appeared, as they seem to every year. Apparently swallowtails don't migrate, and the pupae can overwinter, so once it warms up in the spring, the butterfly can emerge.

They fly back and forth, up and down, meandering from flower to flower, fluttering in the breeze. They seemed to really enjoy the lilac blooms, going back to those repeatedly. One also sat still on a 'wooden heron' we have, enabling me to get some good pictures.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Yellow Flowers in June

The meadow is at it's best in mid-June, and I'm amazed when I walk the trails early in the morning, at the number of yellow flowers. In the early morning sunlight (though it's a rainy day today), the king devil or yellow hawkweed open up to gather in the sun's rays, and as you walk around, their yellow blossoms are everywhere. It's not quite a carpet of yellow, but thousands of yellow stars among the grasses.

In places there are lots of buttercups too, one of our well-known summer flowers, along with the daisies. Their tiny yellow blossoms also open up in response to the sun's rays.

There are the yellow daylilies that I rescued where they had been dumped in the ditch, and planted out near the road at the back of our house. They have fought off the competition of the long grasses and are blooming nicely.

There are even bits of escaped bird's foot trefoil, spread from hayfields, and now naturalized here and there along the roadside.
All in all, it makes a walk through the meadow on an early sunny morning a special treat in June.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mackerel Sky for the Summer Solstice

Looked up at the sky the other evening, just after the sun had disappeared behind the trees, and the sky was mottled with a 'mackerel' pattern of small altocumulus clouds, scattered across half the horizon. Seemed like an interesting sight to mark the summer solstice, since we're not planning any bonfires or midnight dancing to celebrate here!

I'm not sure that a mackeral sky foreshadows any particular type of weather, but I did find a saying - 'mackeral sky; three days dry'. We only got two dry days after it, but we did get a lot of garden work done in those two days.

The summer solstice is a time of year when crops have been planted, the weather is warm, and we look forward to the future harvest, even if the days start getting shorter now. Awake at 1 a.m. last night, on the shortest night of the year, it wasn't really even dark. Both the garden and the meadow are bursting with life now, flowers blooming, birds raising young, and the summer insects beginning to call.

Summer solstice is one of those landmark days if you're paying attention to the seasons, and has been for thousands of years. It reminds me of the giant stone circles in Scotland, where there likely were people celebrating at midnight earlier this week, and for thousands of years before. These photos are of the standing stones in the Ring of Brodgar, where we visited two weeks ago. You quickly start imagining the world 5000 years ago when you stand among these stones. There is some suggestion that this stone circle was known as the 'Temple of the Sun'.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer is Here!

We missed a month! Enjoyed a spectacular trip (to the outer isles of Scotland), but missed a month at home when the world burst into green everywhere. We left when the leaves were barely coming out, and spring flowers were blooming both in the garden and the woods. We returned to grass 3 feet tall in the meadow, hawkweed, buttercups and daisies everywhere, and peonies and iris in bloom in the garden.

I love the bright green of the leaves in spring and early summer. When the leaves are still unfurling, and the sun shines through them in the early morning, they are almost fluorescent. Watching over the seasons the unfolding of leaves on our deciduous trees really is an amazing transformation, which we totally take for granted every year. And the shade and cooler temperatures under the trees make my favourite sitting spot.

It appears that it's a very heavy seed crop on the white ash trees this year, with thousands of keys already hanging from many of the ash. I wonder what the trees know that we don't. And I've heard that the Emerald Ash Borer, which can devastate entire forests of ash trees, has now reached Guelph. I can't imagine this place without ash trees. We would lose half our large trees, and virtually all of the younger trees growing up by themselves. Natural succession in this landscape is driven by young ash; without them who knows what the landscape will look like.