Thursday, October 4, 2007

a walk through the year

Well here's something I'm learning about blogging already: it takes a lot of time and energy, which makes me even more amazed at the people who post once, twice, or more each day, on top of keeping a homestead up and running.

I thought I would share today a book that I read like a daily devotional: Edwin Way Teale's A Walk Through the Year.

In it, Teale records some observation or thought for the day that he had while walking around his Connecticut property, named Trail Wood. Here's a bit of today's entry:

"At the top of the slope overlooking the western end of the pond we meet the most interesting creature our walk provides today...Its body is round, flattened on the bottom, convex on top. Its head is almost entirely hidden. It has the appearance of a tiny, brilliantly colored turtle. When we move our viewpoint, iridescent hues play along its body. We recognize this metallically beautiful creature as one of the small tortoise beetles of the family Chrysomelidae. Some species of these leaf feaders are brilliant red, others are satiny green. One, found on bindweed, appears plated with gold. It was this latter insect that gave Edgar Allen Poe the idea for his famous short story, The Gold Bug."

"The striking beauty of this small living jewel we see on the ground cherry represents the denouement of a kind of entomological version of the ugly ducking lin Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale. During its larval life, the tortoise beetle's body ends at the rear in a forklike tail. Onto this appendage it heaps excrement and cast skins, binding them in place with fine threads of silk. When this mass is hoisted over its back, the larva is so well camoflaged enemies have difficulty distinguishing it from a birddropping or a bit of mud. Because the mass resembles a pack carried on its back, this immature beetle long ago was given its common name: 'the peddler.'"

via Lucinda Treadwell's site at the University of Florida

Teale's observations, of creatures small and large, always remind me to look carefully at what's around me, even in the city. And it's astonishing how much wildlife does manage to navigate a city. I have seen possums, skunks, and red-tailed hawks, among the more usual squirrels, sparrows, and spiders. Figuring out how to share our space with these other lives is part of the reason for my move toward homesteading.

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