When I take lunch here at the preserve, I try to eat outside. My favorite place to eat is on the bench by the front porch. Most of the time I take a book from our library to read – something nerdy – like the little Golden Guide to non-flowering plants. Usually though, I don’t get any reading done. Here’s why.
From where I sit, I can see a good chunk of real estate. Directly in front of me is the butterfly nectar garden. It contains a host of wonderful plants. Right now, there are Thin-leaved Coneflower, Ironweed, Purple Coneflower, New England Aster, White Snakeroot, and Jewelweed in bloom. Surrounding me there are more Purple Coneflowers, as well as Orange Coneflower and a big beautiful Prairie Dock. These colorful flowers attract more insects than I can count. Mostly pollinators, but others too, hoping to snag a meal from an unsuspecting bee, bug, or beetle. I think my favorite pollinator is our native Bumblebees. They are fun to watch and very tolerant of a giant human face right next to them. Butterflies make appearances too, of course, and everything from tiny little skippers to big swallowtails can be seen. Sometimes, the always fascinating hummingbird moth will stop by for a drink. One of the clear-wing moths, this insect mimics a hummingbird. It hovers by the flower while using its proboscis to drink nectar. Completing the throng of wildlife at the flowers is the actual, iridescent Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Now is a great time to see them because of all the Jewelweed in bloom. Sometimes when I am out there, one will give me “the eyeball.” If this has ever happened to you, then you know what I’m talking about.
If I direct my gaze a little further afield, I can see the edge of the pond. A very interesting place, being an area that transitions from water to land. Emerging from the water is Lizard’s tail, a plant with a plume of fragrant flowers that blooms in July. Mixed in is Boneset, Swamp Mallow, more Jewelweed, Great Blue Lobelia, Dodder, and a host of sedges and grasses. Where we keep the edge mowed, the Water lily leaves come right up to the edge of the water. Lots of damselflies can be found in this jungle, along with their big cousins the dragonflies. Quietly hiding among the plants I often flush out Wood Ducks and Green Herons.
Looking even farther out, the pond becomes an expanse of green Water lily leaves. Dragonflies are hunting for insects above the water, and Swallows and Phoebes are too. The Pseudo-Island becomes a refuge for the recently disturbed waterfowl.
Even further my eyes come to rest of the far side of the pond. This edge looks cool and shady, and sometimes – like today – I can see a Great Blue Heron hunting for his lunch.
So, while I munch away, I’m not really looking at my carefully selected book. There is just too much going on right in front of me.