- The rush of migrating birds into the garden in April and May--when suddenly the robins, chickadees, and cardinals were joined by northern flickers, indigo buntings, hummingbirds, and so many more.
- Discovering Lady Slipper Orchids, Prairie Smoke, Wild Indigo, and Brittle Prickly Pear growing in the wild.
- Dusk in late June when suddenly, out the back picture window, thousands of points of light rose up from the perennial garden--the first mass of lightening bugs, flickering on and off for our own personal light show.
- Finding a live, perfectly healthy toad hopping through a farm field that had just been cultivated with a heavy tractor and planted with vegetables for a community garden.
- Stunning sunsets with waves of purple, red, orange, and blue--back-lighting black forms of branches and leaves, like personalities passing into the night.
- Taking a solitary hike early one morning, with songbirds flitting in and out of the tall plants, pollinators buzzing from bloom to bloom, and the early light glinting off the edges of nature in the most perfect way.
- A lone monarch, floating onto a Milkweed patch--one butterfly, by itself, nectaring for nearly an hour in a safe spot. The few photos I took couldn't begin to capture the beauty.
And then the most magical moment of all ...
The first day of October. It was unseasonably warm at midday--near 80°F. On a whim, I drove to Olbrich Botanical Gardens--one of my favorite places. The wind was light, the flowers were blooming, and the pollinators were buzzing ... everywhere! But especially on the Calamintha. Every plant was covered with dozens of pollinators, and the scent was overwhelming.
My photos can't begin to capture the sight, scent, and sound of it all. But that was just the beginning. As I sat on a bench taking in the sensory overload of the bees on the Calamintha, I noticed a monarch dropping down from the sky ...
Then two more ...
And then I noticed the Buddleia plants at the gardens were covered with monarchs. So many that I couldn't count them all. I sat down and took it all in. I tried to capture a few images with my camera, but it just wasn't enough. So I sat and watched ...
Orange shadows above me that I momentarily mistook as falling Orange Maple leaves--were, in fact, more monarchs. They were flying in from the north, and staying put for the afternoon on the wealth of nectar at the garden.
I haven't seen a monarch since, and I might not see any more until next spring ... if I'm lucky.
Shirley at Rock-Oak-Deer recently posted about how to create a fast-moving slide show that looks like a video, so I decided to try it.
It worked! But it still can't really capture the moment. I hope the monarchs will be back again next season. There's always hope ...
We'll miss you.