Monday, July 21, 2008

The Great American Slow-Down

What an eventful weekend we had! It started strong, until we were visited by the notion that we're not 18 anymore. (Ouch!) And reminded, painfully, that it pays to use your head even when you're doing something you love.

After Saturday's stellar finish to big D's T-Ball season, in which Daddies pitched, trophies were awarded, and parents spent way too long gabbing at the end of the game for the players' liking, our family went out to have lunch at a favorite restaurant. It was one of those "life is good" mornings...


While jogging lightly across the street, my husband nearly collapsed. He managed to drag himself to the sidewalk, clearly in serious pain, with what turned out to be a Grade 3 hamstring strain that put him on crutches. We had to head home immediately and pack it in ice. I called the doctor and looked up information to find out how best to care for him. [My utmost thanks go to the Gulick Family for opening their medical supply shop Saturday afternoon so that I could get him some crutches!] As I said to him at the time (and strangely, he didn't seem to appreciate it) -- we're not 18 anymore.

And my lesson learned for the weekend was taught by a little plant we know and love -- poison ivy. Yet another reminder to use gardening gloves when working in the wildflower garden! (pauses to scratch arm, neck, and back)

The slow-down forced upon us by my husband's injury allowed us to notice an unusual array of wild creatures that visited our place this weekend.

Primo found this cool Striped Hawk Moth on our front porch Saturday evening when we were coming in from a lightning bug catching expedition. It was HUGE -- about the size of his palm. Fortunately for us, it was content to sit still for photos. (If it had moved unexpectedly while I was behind the camera, my son would have been treated to seeing his mother have a heebie-jeebie freakout right there in front of him.) Thank goodness we were spared that performance!

We also had the treat of an equally compliant Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feeding at our butterfly bush on Sunday morning. It is one of my favorite summer butterflies.

Out back in the (poison ivy filled, apparently) wildflower garden, the prairie coreopsis has gone to seed, drawing two pair of goldfinches. When they first arrived, it was difficult to get close to them, but as the weekend wore on, they would let us approach slowly. It was still not close enough for a picture, but at least I could hold the children, one at a time, and let them watch.

And our final visitor, a clearwing hummingbird moth, came to our hot pink petunias out front on Sunday afternoon. We were all out on the front porch patiently watching a summer storm come in, and here came this moth the perfect size, shape, and coloring to mimic a ruby-throated hummingbird. It's wings even blurred when it flew (because they were mostly transparent). The difference was, instead of hovering in midair, it landed inside the blossom to drink. We watched it for a while, just because it was so interesting. Since it seemed content to stay, I thought I would try to snap a picture. But by the time I ran in to get the camera, torrents of rain had arrived and the moth had wisely taken cover.

We sat and enjoyed the storm. My husband and both boys sat on the ledge at the front of the porch, letting their legs dangle out to be drenched by sheets of rain. I was content to sit on our porch swing, getting misted by the wind-driven spray. What had begun as a steamy, uncomfortable Sunday transformed to cool comfort.

In retrospect, it's not so bad that our weekend slowed down from its usual frenetic pace. We lapsed into a much slower, more comfortable rhythm. It was probably the first time in a month that my husband wasn't working at the office or on some project at home. And, uncomfortable itching aside, I was able to sit back and enjoy the amazing variety of creatures who have found nourishment in our garden.

Scratch ... Scratch scratch... Scratch...


Midwest Mom


  1. Oh, I am jealous! I planted a couple of butterfly bushes last year, but they just wouldn't come back this year. Maybe I'll try again next year.

    I was smiling throughout this entry. I love watching all the nature things as much as you do!

    I hope the hamstring thing heals up quickly. Those suck!! I tell you, this aging thing really does stink. I grumble every time something reminds me that I don't have the bod of an 18 year old anymore!

  2. Dee Jay -- You're so right! When I think about it, I wouldn't have liked it *one bit* if he had said those words to me!

  3. Re: butterfly bushes

    The key to growing them in places with cold winters is to mulch them well -- from the stem outwart in a circle of about 3ft diameter. It will seem like a lot (I use peat so that I can just work it into the soil in springtime -- but even fall leaves will work). The reason you have to mulch out so far is that the plant's roots spread near the surface of the soil. Also, in the spring, it might *seem* like the plant isn't coming back. My advice is to wait until the weather is a steady 70-75 degrees during the day. You will probably see leaf production begin once the weather gets warmer. The bush in the picture didn't start growing *any* leaves until our lilacs were finished this year, and now it's bigger than my seven year old! :) Good luck!


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