I have the extreme pleasure of being in touch with my first two playmates, the sisters who lived next door, on a somewhat regular basis. And even when we don’t see each other for a long time (Girls, we still owe ourselves a lunch in Newburyport), like any great friendship, we pick right up as if no time has passed.
While they both love the natural world, for that’s where we spent much of our childhood, one in particular frequently shares photos of her finds with me. And so I took her along, riding on my shoulder this morning when I headed out into the rain because I know that she, too, likes rainy days as much as, if not more than sunny days. So does her garden and she’s got a green thumb to envy.
Since my thumbs aren’t great at turning the soil, I support a local farmers’ market and had time to pass waiting for my turn to pick up the pre-ordered produce, bread, chicken, flowers, and treats. Thus, as we started to hike, a grasshopper known for its two stripes greeted us.
Not far along, at the base of a certain pine tree, I showed her the Pippsissewa now in bloom. Not only do I love to say this plant’s name, but the blossoms . . .
oh my. We both squatted for a closer look at the anthers within. And sniffed its sweet scent.
Our next great find was an oak apple gall and of course I had to tell her that a non-stinging and wingless female wasp injected an egg into the veins of the leaf as it was just beginning to grow. Chemicals released by the tiny larvae that developed within altered the growth and over a few weeks, the little orb formed.
By the circle hole on the underside, I explained that the wasp had pupated and chewed its way out and was probably now feeding on the very roots of the same tree . . . that is if it hadn’t been consumed by birds or small mammals.
We moved on, but a tiny spot of brown on a berry leaf was the next to beg for our attention. Check out those toes. Sticky toe pads on their webbed feet provide support for these plant and tree climbers known as spring peepers.
At last we reached a wetland and that’s when the rain really began to fall. And so my friend and I . . . we stood and looked about and enjoyed the raindrops on the grasses and sedges, the water’s surface, and us.
For a while, we left the path, and slipped into the woods, trying to follow a recently created trail, but mostly meandering about in the land where nurse logs provide a start for so many others as they decompose.
As it turned out, that wasn’t the only nursery in town. Once we returned to the trail, which by the way, she was impressed that I could find my way back . . . and so was I, I took her to a nearby meadow where we spotted a momma tending her young’uns.
I knew my friend would love this sighting because she not only saves salamanders and deer, but also spiders from any demise. This momma wasn’t so sure about us, however.
As large as she was, we were even bigger so she continued to work on her web to make sure her children stayed safe.
When she wasn’t looking, we did peek inside and saw a few of the babies.
We spotted another spider of a much more diminutive size upon one of the meadow flowers. You might see it, though it is a master of camouflage. Two insects also hung out as if they were trying to stay dry. Though the beetle is quite obvious, a discerning eye will spy the legs of the other.
We had actually gone to the meadow to see the Canada lilies that tickled our fancy for they looked like streetlights in the midst of the rain drops.
All of our finds had been great, but the best one of all . . . a Katydid. My friend’s name is Kate or as she was known when we were kids: Katy. And when quizzed by our moms about who was responsible for something, the rest of us always said, “Katy did it.”
While standing in the meadow today with Kate on my shoulders, my cell phone rang and suddenly I was looking at . . . my dear friend via FaceTime.
“Did I call you, or did you call me?” I asked as I looked at her beautiful and familiar grin while she stood aboard her cabin cruiser on Long Island Sound.
“You tried to Face Time me twice and so I called you back,” she said as she looked a me–soaking wet and rather bedraggled but happy (except maybe for the mosquitoes and deer flies).
I’d been using my phone to snap most of the photos but kept putting it in my pocket and I think I may have inadvertently contacted a few people.
So maybe this one time I did it and not Katy, but forever when I see a Katydid and many other things in the natural world, she’ll be right there with me as we were so many moons ago–Katy got me then and thankfully she still does.