i follow a local naturalist names larry weber. he used to teach at the university of minnesota in duluth. his favorite flower, by a long margin, is goldenrod. he’s so enamored with it, that he feels it should be the national flower. he calls goldenrod, asters, and sunflowers the Flowers of Fall. we have eight kinds of goldenrod in minnesota–5 species grow in open fields, two wetland species, and one woodland species. i love goldenrod, as much for it’s winter stems with their delightful galls, as for its ubiquitous golden abundance in fall. but national flower? that’s going a bit far perhaps. do you know what the american national flower is? google it. i just did. you won’t be surprised.
bouquet of golden september wildflowers
on the move
while we are enjoying some nearly perfect late summer weather, the birds (triggered by hours of daylight, not temperatures) are already starting to pack up and move south. this flycatcher summers in the boreal forests just to the north of us, and winters in mexico. interestingly, they have one of the shortest stays of any neotropical migrant, often staying less than 70 days in their breeding grounds
i wake up almost every day not knowing what i will photograph today. some days finding my subject is a burden, especially if i am feeling distracted or uninspired. but most days finding my subject is absolutely part of the joy of STILL. it’s like a mini daily treasure hunt. this morning i woke up assuming i would play with the dried gladioli blossoms i pulled from their stems yesterday. but the universe had other plans for my day. sadly, this yellow-bellied flycatcher was lying at the base of my patio doors. reading up on flycatchers, i learned that they are difficult and rare to see in their native summer habitat–deep in the shadows of northern spruce bogs. it turns out, this guy was just passing through on his way south. a rare, but unfortunate, sighting for us.
yellow-bellied flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris)
p.s. here is what the remarkable Cornell Ornithology website had to say about yellow-bellied flycatchers:
- In 1942, Arthur Cleveland Bent, an American ornithologist, called the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher a “woodland waif.” Bent remarked, “In its summer home its voice betrays it, but there, also, the searcher must invade the moist, gloomy morass of some northern forest bog, beneath the shade of spruces and firs, and endure the attacks of hordes of black flies and mosquitoes, to get even a glimpse.”
the sandhill cranes in our back yard have been molting for almost a month now. sometimes it looks as if we have received a dusting of snow. they appear to have saved the best for last, gifting me this masterpiece of a feather today.
sandhill crane downy feather
my mom is not feeling well. she’s 86. each new ailment, now begets further complications. and my son, joseph, had covid this week. the first covid we have had in our household. i am feeling unmoored. fragile. i see only the impermanence of life right now. it is good to be reminded of life’s transience from time to time. but it is not easy.
trends in nature
are you a trend follower? me? not so much. but sometimes trends are so ubiquitous, that you would have to monastic to miss them. case in point, dahlias. dahlias are the flower of the moment. these were gifted to me. of course, i had to mix it up a bit by turning half of them over. you know me…once a rebel, always a rebel.
by the way, did you know that astronomical fall, and meteorological fall are not the same thing? meteorological fall started on september 1st. so we are technically into meteorological autumn. astronomical fall, on the other hand, starts on the autumnal equinox, which is on september 22nd this year. these kinds of factoids make me inexplicably happy to know.
dahlia flowers in september