Apologies for the long absence. I've been having more of the old "why am I doing this?" thoughts about this blog as various other commitments pile up around me like stacks of unanswered letters or papers with "URGENT" stamped on them towering over my desk, all demanding reply and threatening collapse in a messy heap.
Despite the looming demands, though, I am feeling quite happy these days. There are lots of reasons, but just daily life in springtime seems to be the main culprit. It's finally starting to really get hot now, but we've enjoyed weeks of beautiful, mild sunny days full of strawberries and birdsong, and it's hard not to be happy with such natural splendor all around.
Life has also been full of wonderful wildlife sightings lately. On Saturday night, HWWLLB's parents took us to a secret spot to see the Blue Ghosts. They are an Appalachian firefly that gives off a bluish light, soft and low to the ground. Unlike the blinky yellow fireflies you're used to, the light is steady as they hover over the ground.
We drove to the trailhead around 8:30 PM, as it was starting to get dark. Camping is not allowed in this particular park, and the park closes at dusk, so we were happy to avoid being caught by a ranger on the way in. The moon was bright enough that we didn't need any flashlights, and we hiked back to a side trail where folks had heard these fireflies might be. As darkness fell, we watched the yellow fireflies blinking on and off, some rising high into the trees around us.
After an hour or so, we spotted a tiny, soft, eerie glow, bobbing low to the ground. In a little while the understory filled up with hundreds of them, softly floating like reflections of blue starlight on the surface of a dark pond. They transformed a trail where we had walked many times in daylight to a secret, sacred place, far away from people and their noise and lights. It was hard to believe that the tiny lights all around were insects looking for mates. It felt more like a magical, secret night-time city, which I guess in a way it was. We stayed for an hour or so, and then left them to their magical doings.
I mentioned other wildlife sightings... HWWLLB saw a bear while we were hiking on Sunday down from Mt. Pisgah. He was first in line, and startled the bear, a full-sized adult who was foraging just off the trail and went noisily scrambling down the hillside to get away. I heard it but didn't see anything, and was very jealous of HWWLLB and his bear sighting for the rest of the hike.
The other animal visiting us has been a barred owl. This one is in our backyard. We've heard them hooting since we moved here in December, but the other night at dusk he was sitting on the pole that supports our clothesline as we arrived home from work. The next morning, just at dawn, he was sitting in our backyard as mockingbirds and blue jays swooped around him, screeching. He looked relatively untroubled by the anxious littler birds, but didn't stay long, as it was getting bright outside.
I think that some cultures think it's good luck when an owl visits, and some think it's bad luck. I'm calling this particular owl good luck, since barred owls are noisy and frequently heard, but seen much less often - especially sitting on the clothesline!
Some other things I'm feeling lucky about: my Secret Pal. I haven't had a chance to photograph her last package to me while the sun is still shining, but let me describe it anyway. She sent me a big giant packet of wildflower seeds, which I think I'll plant this fall. On the cover are poppies and bachelor's buttons, two of my favorite flowers. There's also a pack of retro red & black stationery, some green tea which I've already taken to work, some more pretty home-made stitch markers, and some great sexy black yarn from Knit One, Crochet Too for a Cabaret Scarf. That will be a fun project! Thank you, Secret Pal!
One last item of good luck: This video is about some of the cool people in the county where we live (I love the Polyphonic Spree soundtrack!). Thanks to Billie (another star in the neighborhood) for pointing out this wonderful project and video, and for making me count my lucky stars to be surrounded by such beautiful people.