Monday, October 13, 2014

The Autumn Garden

A trip to the homeplace in the Harnett County sandhills is always a delight, particularly when it involves a visit with Mom and Dad and Robbie. They have been enjoying a banner year for wildlife so far this year, so we usually pack the camera when we head over that way, and Saturday was no exception.
After sitting and visiting for a spell, Papa Jim suggested I head out to the flower garden for a few pictures ahead of the approaching thunderstorm. Apparently he'd seen a couple of monarchs passing through earlier in the day. 

Jim's instincts were dead on, as usual. The nectaring had reached a fever pitch in the lantana as a half-dozen migrating monarchs joined ranks with a ragtag band of locals,

and a motley crew they made in the autumn garden.

Spotted buckeyes and painted ladies jockeyed for position with their bold orange brethren;

restless, roving, proboscises probing,

frantically feeding, 

as though each draught might be their last.

Fluttering wings and wind-tossed blossoms erupted in a riot of color,

as eye and lens thrilled at a brief moment of repose, 

before beauty took wing again, dancing to the sound of thunder.

Hopper had yet to earn its wings, but fearlessly held to its sunny perch high above the grass,

emboldened by the butterflies' oblivious sipping.

The tiny spotted skipper, moth-like features belying its true nature, lighted for a single sip,

then yielded its spot to a lady.

The autumn garden and its gleaners glowed in the fleeting golden rays; 

familiar silver-spotted skipper, with tattered wing, 

and magnificent monarch, with scarcely a scale out of place.

Buckeye buried its head in a sweet golden cup, then orange, then pink, then gold again.

And skipper paused, head raised, as if to measure the storm's progress,

while monarch gave the camera a parting shot, in profile. 

It's autumn in the Sandhills, with lantana and sunshine and butterflies and rain on the way;

immersing us in a boundless garden of wonder. 

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