Friday, October 9, 2015


October is a fine and dangerous time in America, a wonderful time to begin anything at all.
- Thomas Merton

The first full week of October is drawing to a close and I am finally free from some pressing work at the office and a tight writing schedule at home - at last for a short time. Time to go out and see October.  In a way, my break out from weeks of sit-down-indoor-work was kind of like hibernating for two months. Then all of a sudden, it's October!

Variegated Fritillary.

We dodged a bullet last week when Hurricane Joaquin veered north and east, away from the Mid-Atlantic coast. The Southeast, however, was inundated days before the hurricane even began to move out of the Caribbean. Huge rain trains streamed over the South Carolina coast and into the midlands causing the most severe flooding in the state's history. Here, however, we had several days of moderate to heavy rainfall and no real flooding except on the Eastern Shore and Atlantic Coast in MD, DE, and NJ.  But we really needed the rain here and the ponds on the farm filled right up!

American Painted Lady Butterfly.

October in the Mid-Atlantic means huge migratory flocks of songbirds at night and great kettles of hawks, vultures, and eagles streaming over the mountains. I was able to keep up with all the action in my sequestration by peeking at Facebook. All of our local, regional, and national bird and wildlife organizations keep very active pages and members load the most amazing photographs and video. But Facebook can only satisfy this migratory maniac for so long! Out! Out!

Palm Warbler in fall attire.

The shimmering pond, ringed with cattail and willow, was just what I needed. Just me and the solitude and beauty of the season. Very different from a loud, often gossipy, and incredibly distracting work environment. I'd rather have the open outdoors alone than an open office full of people. Out here for the first time in many weeks I felt the stress and screen-fog melt away.

Buckeye Butterfly.

I wish there was a way to post the scent of this walk around the pond. The pungent beehive smell of a nearby honey bee nest (I think in one of the wood duck boxes?) permeated the banks of flowers and grasses as the bees worked hard to collect late season nectar. Autumn butterflies, wasps, beetles, bee-mimic flies, and dragonflies blanketed the whole scene, sweet with the blossom smell of asters.

Monarch Butterfly.

The most common butterflies today were the Buckeye and the migratory Monarch.  Monarchs were traveling from across the wide soybean fields in lazy-flapping pairs and triples to congregate here at the pond, possibly their last stop to feed before leaving the head of the Chesapeake along their flyway to the southern states. There were hundreds!  And then the late season dragonflies! As red as an October sunset...

Ruby Meadowhawk.


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes' sake along the wall.

Robert Frost

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