A Signs of the Season roundup for the second week of October:
Bumblebees go to sleep early now, and our Canada goldenrod is hung with dark, little blobs well before Civil Twilight.
Each blob is a bee or fly.
Few things are cuter than an upside-down bumblebee falling asleep.
My kid want to pet one of the bumbles, but was afraid he’d hurt her, so he steadied his wrist as he touched her fuzzy back. She didn’t move.
“Why do people hate bees so much?” he asked.
We agreed that anyone who pets a bumble
cannot possibly hate a bumble.
Every summer, I watch chimney swifts high overhead: circling, gobbling, twittering. They have SO much to say, swifts. Once you ID the twitters, you’ll hear them every day, all day, for months.
Swifts migrate to South America any minute now, so enjoy the twittering (and the free Mosquito service) while you can.
In case you missed it, I am obsessed with buckeyes. This is a view of the sidewalk under Ray Steven’s old Red buckeye tree at Music Row.
Some, I’ll put in the fridge to stratify for planting.
Some, I’ll throw at easements (as a seed bomb).
Some, I’ll give away.
And one, I’ll keep in my pocket. For luck.
Cicada Killer and Cicada: Predator and Prey.
I found these two lovelies dead on a sidewalk near one of the many, many houses with lawn services who spray pesticides.
Please ask your lawncare service to skip the pesticides and herbicides and petroleum-based fertilizers. A perfect, golf-course carpet of exotic turfgrass is not worth poisoning “the little things than run the world.”
Are you seeing more Orbweavers in the last week or so?
These big mamas usually eat their webs first thing in morning (with all the proteins and pollen bits stuck to it!) and spin a new one at night, but in fall, they can keep webs up all day, and are thus more see-able by humans.
In my opinion, they get lazy with housekeeping because they can: the kids are set (in eggsacs that hatch in spring), so Mom’s main job is done.
A daytime web is the Orbweaver version of ordering pizza while binge-watching BritBox. In sweatpants.
I’ve also been obsessing about September elms, and so had to pay a visit to the World’s Second Largest September elm, which happens to be at Vanderbilt.
Masks were worn.
While there, I also visited the ginormous Southern Hackberry in the courtyard at Divinity, but was horrified to find it engulfed in English ivy. English Ivy is an invasive, exotic, tree-killing thug. It damages bark, it weakens branches, it acts as a wind-sail in storms, it blocks photosynthesis, it masks all sorts of damage.
But luckily, a friend is forwarding my crime photos to the right person. We are hoping the ivy can be severed at soil. Dying ivy looks terrible, but it looks better than a dying tree.
Are you seeing lots of short, leafy twigs on the sidewalk lately, or in the yard? Squirrels are adding insulation and bedding to Winter Homes right now. I swear they drop more twigs than they take.
The squirrels in my pic are this fall’s tenants in my neighbor’s brick buttress. We keep similar hours, the squirrels and I, and we stare at each other at dusk and dawn.
Every day, I see at least one Monarch flying South. Usually, the Monarchs are fluttering above 21st Ave / Hillsboro Road, which makes me nervous, but maybe they are taking advantage of traffic’s updraft?
It is the BEST thing in the world when I see a Monarch having a snack in my garden.
“Tank up, Sweetie,” I tell them, “pig out while you can.”
Every zinnia and aster and frostweed and marigold and fleabane between here and Mexico is a way station.
And here’s what may be my last Gulf Fritillary of 2020. She emerged from her chrysalis yesterday, and when she was ready, I moved her outside. In the pic, she’s figuring out her new wings on a native aster.
A minute later, she flew.
Thanks for reading.
What’s happening on the ground or in the sky where you are?
My Instagram posts are 100% nature, and most of it the Sidewalk kind.
I’m not fond of facebook, but some people aren’t on Instagram, so I post nature things there from time to time.
Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist in Nashville, the hackberry-tree capital of the world.
She writes about everyday natural wonders amid every habitat loss, and her essays have appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Fourth Genre, Hippocampus, The Hopper, Flyway, The Common, City Creatures, The Fourth River and other journals.