Late Summer Fritillaries In Loops And Circles, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:43am


Well hello August.

It’s late summer. Not at all fall. But here in Northern California the sun seems to sigh, “Never mind.” It’s still hot, it will be hot for a few more weeks, maybe even months. But everything radiates less.

However, in the Bay Area it’s also butterfly time. In anticipation, I’ve planted a passiflora, or Passionflower vine, I’ve grown a thistle up over my head, I’ve cleaned orange aphids off milkweed plans, with my fingers. That’s better done in gloves. Now I wait.

The butterflies, if they come, are few and mostly solo. A Gulf Fritillary, whom I hope will have laid eggs on the passiflora. A Common Buckeye, pausing to rest on my lawn, wings open, wings shut. A few teeny moth-like Skippers of various sorts, in the dregs of the lavender out front. I am again hoping for a Monarch, having cleaned up those milkweeds as best I could. Rather like dusting the front parlor for guests.

Of course I don’t have a parlor.

If they come, the butterflies, they arrive in mid-afternoon, just as the sky makes one final attempt at a July blue. I keep watch through my kitchen window as I put ingredients out to make dinner. And then I see the Fritillary’s orange wings, flapping, as it loops and circles across the tall abelia hedge.

And I mean upper-case T tall, i.e. 12 feet. The Fritillary has to fly quite high. Beautiful, the orange wings against a blue sky, tired though that sky may be.

So if August here feels like the day after a party – paper plates on the ground, balloons deflating in the trees – butterflies are maybe the guests who stayed. The good guests who help tidy up and make you laugh, even about your own bad jokes the night before.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

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16 Comments

  • 08/05/17
    10:12 am

    Reply

    lauren said...

    what a thoughtful host you are.

    08/05/17
    10:22 am
    Lisa said...

    @lauren, Well they don’t need the wireless password so a little nectar and a few prickles are the least I could do;).

  • 08/05/17
    10:50 am

    Reply

    Ann said...

    So happy to see you back here, Lisa. Boy, you sure know a lot of cool butterflies and how to throw a good butterfly party!

    My BF party here in the Lower Midwestern US doesn’t compare, offering only the straightforwardly named butterfly bushes. For over a month now, scores of BFs have been swarming drunkenly around our bushes. You’d think they’d get tired of the same old joint, but every morning they show up by nine o’clock, like all-day beer bar regulars. From the screen porch we admire their beauty and feistiness and liberate those who’ve found their way onto the porch and can’t get out.

    Wireless password comment — priceless!

    08/05/17
    2:59 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Ann, But as is often the case, your simple fare and good company are far more appealing than my rarefied snacks. I would love to see a swarm of butterflies, sometimes I feel sad for my solo wanderers.

  • 08/05/17
    11:24 am

    Reply

    MaryAnne said...

    Yay! You’re back. Missed you.

    08/05/17
    2:59 pm
    Lisa said...

    @MaryAnne, Thank you! I missed you!

  • 08/05/17
    12:25 pm

    Reply

    Mardel said...

    Oh how lovely. And how nice to have you back.

    08/05/17
    2:59 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Mardel, Thank you. And it’s nice to be back. Felt like I was gone for a while!

  • 08/05/17
    1:05 pm

    Reply

    Bungalow Hostess said...

    Ah I hope those butterflies put on a lovely showing for all your kind efforts.
    I’ve been out deadheading the roses and removing some black spotted leaves…the heat of the day has chased me inside for a cool glass of lemonade and I am so happy to see your new post.
    XO

    08/05/17
    3:00 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, Your roses are a star of nature and human collaboration. Lemonade sounds amazing.

  • 08/05/17
    2:12 pm

    Reply

    MarlaD said...

    This year, for the first time in my life, I was able to see the entire life cycle of a monarch butterfly unfold in my back yard. My gardener used his weed eater too close to one of my milkweed plants and skinned the leaves off it – I found two small monarch caterpillars on the ground underneath it, luckily unharmed. I rehomed them on another milkweed in a safer part of the yard and it is one of these guys I believe whose chrysalis I found on the underside of my birdbath. I watched it develop over days and happened to be home the day the magic happened but sadly missed the butterfly emerging – I saw him shortly afterwards though, stretching his wings and taking the world in. He fluttered up to a bush and within an hour or two, was gone on to start the cycle over again. It was pure magic and I will never forget it. (PS so glad you’re back!)

    08/05/17
    3:01 pm
    Lisa said...

    @MarlaD, Oh my gosh that sounds amazing! I would LOVE to see that same thing, some day. I can only hope, and keep de-aphiding my milkweeds;). I’m glad to be back too!

  • 08/05/17
    5:20 pm

    Reply

    Susan D. said...

    What fun to be a welcome butterfly in your yard!

    We expect monarchs on our Salvia Leucantha before too many more weeks.

    08/06/17
    10:51 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan D., Oh I hope you post a photo or two somewhere;).

  • 08/05/17
    11:06 pm

    Reply

    Parnassus said...

    Hello Lisa, It does seem that there are fewer butterflies than before, so hats off to you for creating a refuge for them. Your reward as you so eloquently point out occurs when they come to visit. I recently visited a house near Cleveland blessed by a large number and variety of hummingbirds, and got some of the same feeling that each time one drew near, that I was witnessing something extraordinary.
    –Jim

    08/06/17
    10:52 am
    Lisa said...

    @Parnassus, Yes, this. Even tough we have constant hummingbirds here they still feel like miracles.

  • 08/06/17
    6:09 am

    Reply

    Kathy said...

    Welcome back – you were missed. I’m seeing a lot of single butterflies too in our garden but at least I’m seeing them. And like MarlaD, I’ve seen the entire lifecycle of a few monarchs on our milkweeds in the front yard.

    Hope you had a nice summer break.

    08/06/17
    10:54 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, I had an amazing break, thank you. And I agree, at least we are seeing them.

  • 08/06/17
    9:09 am

    Reply

    Frances/Materfamilias said...

    A magical post. Ah, butterflies. . . .Thank you!

    08/06/17
    10:55 am
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, Oh, thank you!

  • 08/06/17
    9:17 am

    Reply

    Leslie K said...

    Yay – you’re back!

    08/06/17
    10:55 am
    Lisa said...

    @Leslie K, <3<3<3

  • 08/06/17
    11:22 am

    Reply

    Katherine C. James said...

    Welcome back. It’s lovely to see one of your Saturday posts in my email. This piece is particularly poetic; your language is beautiful. You describe August just as I feel about it, “the sun seems to sigh, ‘Never mind.’ ” Fall looms and I’m glad of it, though, since spring my pursuits have been in directions I would not have chosen and the year is going too fast for me. On the Fourth of July I was in the backyard garden of a friend at an al fresco dinner party at the butterfly hour. It was a gorgeous day in a yet-more-gorgeous setting, and from where we sat under an umbrella on a flagstone patio, we could see into her lush, extended garden. Each time a butterfly would appear we would note it and Ooh and Aah. My friend has done as you have done and planted specifically to lure native butterflies and bees. I love this gesture of love toward the planet and its delicate inhabitants and ecosystem. Your piece also reminded me of my mom, as August always has and always will, now for two reasons. 15 August was her birthday, and on this 28 August it will be two years since she died. I anticipate this will be the first anniversary I’ll feel fully the loss of her and its implications. Last year I was too busy as her executor and too numb to feel. I’m dreading the significant days a bit, but also looking forward to feeling whatever feelings arrive. The ability to feel turns out to be a gift, like butterflies for the soul. My mother would have loved your garden. She was a member of the California Native Plant Society, and a serious gardener. Thank you for your contribution, through your garden, to the health and beauty of the world.

    08/09/17
    11:47 am
    Lisa said...

    @Katherine C. James, It sounds as though the butterflies were quite pleased to join you at the party on the 4th;). I will be thinking of you as the anniversary of your mother’s death approaches. I hope your head is recovering bit by bit, and that by next summer you too will be gardening with butterflies.

  • 08/06/17
    3:22 pm

    Reply

    Nelson Bartley said...

    I had milkweed outside my kitchen window and managed to watch a monarch emerge from its chrysalis as I washed the dishes one day. So magical! although they don’t look like much until their wings dry and spread.

    08/09/17
    11:48 am
    Lisa said...

    @Nelson Bartley, Oh how wonderful! I guess they need a little time to recover from the process of emerging before they can sustain their full beauty.

  • 08/06/17
    4:18 pm

    Reply

    Jane said...

    Yay! You’re back! So happy to see your post here and hope you had a wonderful time on your break.

    08/09/17
    11:48 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jane, Thank you. I did! Post on my vacation, the Scottish part, is up now.

  • 08/06/17
    10:44 pm

    Reply

    Melanie said...

    Sigh. A pleasure to read.

    08/09/17
    11:50 am
    Lisa said...

    @Melanie, Thank you:).

  • 08/11/17
    4:23 pm

    Reply

    Diane Santarella Lawrence said...

    So beautiful…all of it…especially time spent with your son, who is beautiful in every sense of the word and who must make your heart sing when you look at him and think…”I made this”

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