Monday 28 September 2015

A Magical Night for a Moondance

Gentle Reader ~~~ Did you see it? The Super Moon, Full Moon, Harvest Moon, Blood Moon last night?

Here in The Shire, it was a middle of the night experience, and I couldn't sleep a wink. I was so worried I'd drift off into the Land of Nod and miss the whole thing, because, for once in a very long time it looked as if we would not be scuppered by the omnipresent cloud cover that spoils so many cosmic events for we folk in the west.

The warm and friendly closing bars of music from Downton Abbey faded {is this really the final series?} but there were still four hours to go before this lunar spectacular commenced. Panic ye not! I set my alarm for 2:00 a.m. but I was so excited that it just kept me going ~~~ I need not have worried.

At 2:00 a.m. the alarm was duly switched off and I put on warm clothing, grabbed my camera and settled myself outside in the cold air of an early Autumn night.  Everything was so incredibly bright, almost as daylight, with long shards of silver light becoming the darkest shadows beyond objects that no longer held the familiarity of daylight ~~~

There was hardly a star in the sky! Suddenly, a barely discernible change crept across the garden, and the first nibble went from our silver hare and Man in the Moon ~~~ it was happening right here, right now ~~~

Slowly, the moon began to disappear, little by little, and as she did so the stars came out in the crisply clear sky until it was so full of millions upon millions of stars, the like of which I cannot recall seeing before.  With a great whoop of joy I could see the Milky Way, a gentle, pale, lighter slash across the dark night sky.

Shooting stars whizzed quickly by, just adding to the magic, as the moon disappeared even more ~~~ eventually turning the eagerly anticipated blood red that is a rare phenomenon indeed ~~~

I felt so peacefully alone, so connected to this wonderful, truly awesome, universe in which I live my small and insignificant life ~~~ it was just me, the moon, and the stars ~~~

I could not resist myself and kicked off my shoes and danced across the dew soaked grass of the lawn ~~~ it just seemed so much the right thing to do!

I stood for over two hours through the night to watch this unfold before my eyes. The moon remained blood red for much longer than I expected and sometime after 4:00 a.m. the first signs of the eclipse ending began. Sometime later, I came back inside, tired and incredibly happy I crawled into my bed to relive the experience in my dreams ~~~

Until next time
Sincerely yours

Sunday 27 September 2015

A World Where There Are Autumns

Gentle Reader ~~~ I am an Autumn girl through and through. I love everything there is about Autumn ~~~ the cooler days, the lowering sun, the gentle breezes, and all the jewelled colours of the slowing year ~~~ I even love the wild storms that lash the coast as they pound in from the Atlantic Ocean turning everything grey and salt kissed ~~~ and

~~~ I love the fun things to do ~~~

~stomping through fallen leaves~

~watching the colours of the land, sea, and sky turn with the changing year~

~wrapping up with my favourite fingerless mittens and scarves~

~sipping mugs of steaming hot chocolate~

~toasting crumpets, thickly slathered with butter and jam~

~decorating the cottage with Autumnal flavours~

~cooking and eating the warmer, richer, soups and stews of Autumn~

 ~gathering berries and nuts~

~walking in the woods~



~Pumpkins ~

~~~ and so much more ~~~

Oh! and Downton Abbey ~~~ but worry not, my lips are sealed ~~~ it is on as I write ~~~ and I can keep a secret {or ten} ~~~

~~~but most of all I love that Autumn gives us hope for the following year in the form of seeds that slumber through Winter and burst forth in the rebirth of Spring to the full blown beauty of flowers that follow in Summer~~~

For me, Awe~tumn is truly the most Awesome season of them all, and to misquote one of my favourite authors,

"I'm so glad I was born in a world where there are Autumns"

Earlier this week we had the Autumn Equinox ~~~ one of just two days each year {the other being the Spring Equinox} when the day and night are of equal length. From now until the Winter Solstice the days shorten and nights lengthen and the world of the Northern Hemisphere is slowly winding down and preparing to sleep ~~~

In The Shire, we are blessed by some truly lovely Autumn weather. After a Spring that failed to spring, and a Summer that was more like a damp squib, Autumn is bringing very pleasant temperatures with little or no rain, and quite a bit of sun.  The days are comfortably warm, with cooler evenings for snuggling under warm quilts and blankets ~~~ the projected forecast for the next ten days seems agreeable and there should be good opportunity to do any necessary tidying up and preparing the garden for Winter ~~~

Here is a little poem from one of my favourite childhood books, "A Child's Garden of Verses"

Autumn Fires 
by Robert Louis Stevenson 

In the other gardens
  And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
  See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
  And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
  The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
  Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
  Fires in the fall!

The colours are changing, the leaves are falling, and the last fruits of the year ripen on the boughs.  Here are a few images from around the Garden to capture those last magical moments, the jewelled colours of the year before all is touched by Winter's frosty kisses ~~~

Jewelled Lusciously Juicy Jewels of Black, and Red Ripening, Blackberries

Turning Leaves

Red Turning Leaves

Glossy Red Apples Ripening on the Boughs
A Cascade of Apples

Purple, Velvety~covered Clematis

Clematis with Wind Flower


Autumn Fruiting Raspberries ~ Yum!

The colours of the evening skies are changing too, being more muted, subtle shades of the scorching colours of a Summer sky ~~~ the world turns, and everything changes ~~~

A final note of birdsong in the Autumn Garden ~~~

Until next time
Sincerely yours

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Flutterbys and Mirths in the Garden ~~~

Gentle Reader ~~~

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.  ~Rabindranath Tagore

oh Flutterby Butterfly ~~~ you delicate, darting, jewel coloured darling ~~~ settling, flitting and flighting, darting, settling, flitting away again ~~~ fly away, fly back, and away again ~~~ busy, busy, busy, butterfly, flying all around the garden ~~~ alight on my arm for a single, magical moment, and away again to the flowers to drink nectar rich ~~~ fairies in my Garden ~~~

One of the things that brings much joy in the Garden is the presence of butterflies, for their fleeting lives are full of beauty, colour, and the urgency to feed and lay their clutches of eggs to ensure the next generation is established ~~~ of course, the eggs hatch into caterpillars and that, sadly, means competition for the food and flowers ~~~

The delicate beauty of the wings, stunning iridescent jewel colours, soft velvety textures, and mosaic patterns leave me in awe at the magical essence of a butterfly.

Aside from being beautiful, butterflies perform an invaluable job in the garden too, for as they feed so they carry pollen on their hairy wings and bodies, so pollinating the plants to make fruits and help to ensure the next generation of plants is nudged on its way for next season ~~~

"To a Butterfly" by William Wordsworth, 
I've watched you now a full half-hour;
Self-poised upon that yellow flower
And, little Butterfly!  Indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless! - not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!

Here are a few that graced the garden with their presence just this week ~~~ I will do my best to identify them, but I am no expert so please, do not quote me!

Green Veined White Butterfly on Marjoram
Green Veined White Butterfly on Marjoram

A majestic Tortoiseshell ~~~

Montage of Tortoiseshell  Butterfly
Close up showing pollen coating hairs on butterfly

Tortoiseshell Wing Detail

There can be no doubting why the Buddleia is also nicknamed the Butterfly Bush ~~~

This simple and innocent looking butterfly will, in caterpillar form, decimate your cabbages in a trice! 

Small White {a gardener's nemesis}

Oh, I do not think this is a Common Blue at all! That is a very noble, indeed a quite uncommon shade of blue ~~~ don't you think?

Blue-Butterfly Day - Poem by Robert Frost 
It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.
But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire. 

Common Blue on Mint Flowers
Montage of the Common Blue Butterfly

Here is the darker, but equally as stunning Wood Skipper in a country lane near the Cottage ~~~

Wood Skipper

A brightly coloured male Orange Tipped Butterfly alights on an Osteospermum ~~~

Butterfly Laughter - Poem by Katherine Mansfield
In the middle of our porridge plates
There was a blue butterfly painted
And each morning we tried who should reach the
butterfly first.
Then the Grandmother said: "Do not eat the poor
That made us laugh.
Always she said it and always it started us laughing.
It seemed such a sweet little joke.
I was certain that one fine morning
The butterfly would fly out of our plates,
Laughing the teeniest laugh in the world,
And perch on the Grandmother's lap.

These three are of a Gatekeeper, also know as a Hedge Brown ~~~

Close up with wing detail

Then come the Mirths {moths} ~~~ that is just me being silly with words again ~~~ but moths do bring much mirth I think, almost as much in their own late at night way as the flutterbys bring in the day ~~~

Moths are not easy to identify and to the best of my knowledge this beautiful white one with a fluffy collar looking most regal is a Muslin Moth {but equally could be a Brown Tail or a White Ermine ~~~ I am no expert!  It was a very rainy day and the flashing was quite splashed but I spotted him against the white board, despite his camouflage ~~~

My best guess at the identity of this rather regal, ermine~necked beauty is a White Ermine moth, which seems rather appropriate looking at its neck ~~~

The ghostly, and spookily scary White Feather Moth ~~~

Can you spot this one? I could barely see it in amongst the berries, but spot it I did ~~~ possibly a Silver Y?

The caterpillar of the Mullein Moth ~~~

A voracious devourer of any leaf from the Mullein plants ~~~ but what a beauty it is ~~~

I have absolutely  no idea what this is, but it was barely visible against the wall ~~~

Another mystery moth ~~~

The next two images are of butterfly eggs ~~~ well hidden on the undersides of leaves ~~~ but see how different the two are?

This scary beast is the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawkmoth ~~~

and finally, butterflies do love to bask in the sun, on a warm wall or leaf ~~~

Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.~Hans Christian Andersen

Until next time
Sincerely yours