Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Last Flashy Insect of the Year?


Here's a hearty little red November dragonfly. I have seen a few of them recently and I am guessing they will be the last big insects outdoors around here until next spring. Click to enlarge.

It's an autumn meadowhawk dragonfly. They are not unheard of in November in New Jersey though they are more common when the weather is warmer.

I think late-migrating insect-eating birds will be glad to see them.

A haiku poem written in the early 1800s by the poet Kobayashi Issa:  

departing for the festival

all  in red


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Gray Mantis


A mantis, though small, has an imposing presence. They always look to me ike they might be up to something. And I'm pretty sure they always see me long before I see them. Consider the dramatic pose on this one I came across when I stopped to rest in a park gazebo. It is sitting in the center of an octagon, casting a black shadow, and seems to be pointing prophetically to 9 o'clock. It could be the opening scene from a movie called The Mantis Pointed to Nine. Click to enlarge.

Fast forward. Nothing happened at nine. It's just a Carolina Mantis. Native. Beneficial. This is its gray form (they also come in green and brown) the better to blend in with old wood while watching you.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Daylight Saving


Daylight Savings Time ended this morning and we are deep into autumn. My clocks all say it's an  hour earlier than it feels. That combined with the spin of the seasons will result in a sunset at 4:50 p.m. today. I'm preparing myself mentally for long nights and what my friend SpongeBob SquarePants calls advanced darkness.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Lovely Autumn

Just a few pictures of the season.

And the opening stanza from To Autumn by William Blake:
"O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe;
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruit and flowers."

Click to enlarge.

And Happy Halloween to all!

Sunday, October 24, 2021



Let me begin by saying that the praying mantis gets its common name from the typical folded front legs pose that gives the impression of prayer. But I hear that they don't all follow the same religion -- they are in sects.

Just kidding. Click to enlarge

Just can't help noticing how many of them are around out there lately. They got really big from a summer of catching and eating other insects.

Gotta love the faces.

I saw the three individuals pictured here on a single walk in the woods. It's hard to miss a 4- or 5-inch long insect, even when it's sitting still and trying to blend in.

Seems like only yesterday that I could hold one on my thumb. They grow up so fast.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Pine Barrens Gentians


I anticipate snowdrop flowers at the end of winter. I spend the spring and summer stalking wild orchids. And now at the end of the growing season are the pine barrens gentians.

These blue autumn flowers are natives of North American coastal pine barrens from South Carolina to New Jersey. These lovelies were photographed in the New Jersey pine barrens near the town of Chatsworth.

I know there are lots of other flowers blooming in the autumn fields, but I think of the gentians as the last flowers of the year. And that makes me think of a poem called The Last Flower by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, which begins: Rich the first flower's graces be, 
But dearer far the last to me...

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Pumpkin Time


Roadside farm markets are selling pumpkins, squash, and gourds right now. It's time to take a nice ride in the country. Try to decide among all the interesting colors and shapes. Like classic orange. 

Plain white.

Or the rainbow of pumpkin colors.
And fairy tale shapes.  

So many other kinds of vegetable loveliness.

Here are a few lines from The Pumpkin by John Greenleaf Whittier

"Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold," 


Just be careful to avoid the squash monsters among them.