The Red Eft

Above, a Red Eft,  my photo, July 31, 2018

August 12, 2018:

The other day, I called (on my land line) a carpenter who had been recommended to me to repair some woodpecker damage to the cedar siding on my house. I told him I’d lived here for 43 years, which was a sure give-a-way about my age. The carpenter said he could handle the job, and just to text him my name and address and he’d come out and give me an estimate. Then he stopped short and asked me over the phone: “Do you know how to text?”

Computer keyboard

My computer keyboard

Oh sure. I do text, sort of. I’ve concluded that my cell phone takes the letters more accurately if I use the side of my thumb than if I use my forefinger to punch the letters, but physically, and intellectually it’s a struggle to believe in the process. As to using speech input, I simply won’t go down that road. I try to keep up with technology, but much of the changes will never feel natural to me.

One of the most self-defeating aspects of aging is if you come to believe there will never be any more “firsts” in your life, that you’ve seen and experienced all that you can reasonably expect to see and do before you exit this earth. I’m not quite that self-defeating but it is seldom I have a really awesome “first” moment any more, which is where the Red Eft comes into the story. Actually, the Red Eft’s sighting turned out to be both a great “first” and “second!”

On July 31, 2018 at 7:57 a.m, I was taking my usual morning walk in our local forest preserve. I was crossing the parking lot in front of the old red barn, when I happened to look down at the pavement and saw a creature entirely new to me! It looked to be a red salamander, about 3″ long. Wow! This was exciting. I texted a photo of my find to one of the county naturalists and got back the following messages: “Cool! Pretty sure this is an eastern newt. I’m sending it on to our wildlife biologist. Great find!” And a few minutes later: “Just want you to know that this salamander, an eastern newt, is a very special find. Yours is only the second sighting of it here. Our wildlife biologist is thrilled (as am I)!”

A few more firsts:  Yesterday (8/11/2018), on a whim, I decided to see how many different insects I could find on a stand of sunflowers along the path.  In a minute or two, I’d photographed these

Bee on sunflowerBeatles on sunflower

Insect on sunflower












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Magic in a Clump of Cattails

The Ecological Toad

Another “How many insects can you spot?” photo play.  These pics were all taken on a clump of milkweed, August 19, 2018.   What caught my attention was the monarch butterfly caterpillar curled on a leaf;

Milkweed plants

Milkweed with monarch caterpillar on leaf

Monarch caterpillar









Then I spotted these milkweed bugs “frolicking” on another milkweed leaf.

Milkweed Bugs

Milkweed Bugs

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Remaining Curious: Or Spider Web Graphics

Winter Butterflies