Sunday, August 9, 2009

High Water Mark

The dry days of summer, this year have not come.
Even now, my path to the pond and beyond remains a winding one—
taking the higher ground, hugging the fence line as it reaches toward the field behind the barn—
never coursing straight across, for the lush green grass of an April day grows there still.
And through the blades, where each step would be quickly consumed, the heat of the day dances in small flashes of light, on inky puddles.

A crack has grown in the center of the gravel drive.
From a small trickle weeks ago, with each deluge, carving a deeper path down our hill, as the waters race toward the small stream roaring across the road. Removing one stone after another, widening the wash. Until a small canyon now welcomes our guests at the road’s edge.

Question Mark Butterfly, Polygonia interrogationis

Ebony jewelwing damselfly, Calopteryx maculata

But the higher waters can carry us , too.
Further back,
deeper than ever before,
into creek beds we’ve never explored.
Beyond the gravel bars that, on most August days, jut from the water—
draw a line you may not cross.

Here, with its only access the water,
a celebration seldom seen—
those flowers of the hidden summer streamside.

American Water Willow, Justicia americana

Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata

Sharpwing Monkey Flower, Mimulus alatus

In a mass of roots on an exposed bank, a 4-foot long Northern Water Snake was well-hidden, too.
It looks as if he's chosen the roughness there to slough off his outgrown skin.

Can you see it beginning to loosen from the top of his head?

Stumble Upon Toolbar


MObugs said...

Wonderful blog, I loved the Water snake photo. We have a pond on one of our farms that typically gets overrun with water snakes, seems they are after the frogs. The frogs are eaten and the snakes leave. It cycles every few years. This year the frogs are back, so I suspect next year so will the snakes. The question mark butterfly photos are gorgeous!

cestoady said...

Even when it rains too much there is beauty to find in the insects, flowers, and even a ditch. To see a snake about to shed its coat is something special.

By the way, I so enjoyed your movie on the Lotus on You Tube at the end of the last post (Aug.5) ,Perfect Place, --- it is fantastic !!

TSannie said...

Wonderful snake photos.

bobbie said...

I love this post. Your question mark is gorgeous, as are all the photos.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Often, by this time in the summer, we've given up trying to canoe on these small streams--we run aground so often, it's just no fun.
But this rainy summer has allowed us a much longer canoeing "season," also.
And a chance to see the next wave of bloomers along the banks.

That snake, by the way, is what many confuse in this area, with a copperhead. It's markings and rusty color cause people to kill them mistakenly.
Northern Water snakes are non-poisonous, and, aside from spooking me (because we glided past VERY close to him!) they are not harmful.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

I don't think I'd ever really looked at a Question Mark (ugly name--so deserving of one much nicer)so closely before.
This one had been feeding at the gorgeous swamp milkweed until we stopped to watch, then moved on.
The brilliant color and white trim to the wings--on a dark stream bank--WOW!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

I really enjoyed this post. And the photography, as always, was wonderful.

I do wonder, considering yesterday's much-warmer Sunday, whether we're not going to have a short session of hot and sweltering summer this year after all. I guess the weeks ahead will tell…

Again, nice post.

Anonymous said...

Up here in the northeast, thunderstorms have caused some pretty severe flooding, for the area anyway.

sweet bay said...

Wonderful post. I loved all of it, from the insects to the flowers to the snake.

Deborah Godin said...

What a delightful celebration of the power of water and gravity! And the snake shots are a treat; I haven't seen one at my place yet, but still hope.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Perhaps you should have given that water snake a lift to your bulfroggy pond! Although I hear they're not much fun to handle.
Fabulous shot!
And tell me--are your bugs that much more elegant than ours? The damsel on the coreopsis, why that's just amazing, the rhythm and balance of it all, not to mention the color.
You have such an eye.