The Wayfaring Stranger

I have several pieces of news to share from the yard. Most of it is good, but one part of it is sad; in fact, very sad. Let me begin. We had big rains last week, early in the week. And right after that, our hummingbirds left. Just like that, they were suddenly GONE.

It is my personal policy to keep at least one feeder clean and full for two weeks after spotting our last local hummingbird. You know, to feed any birds passing through. And on this morning, I was so glad I did. My husband reported a visitor. She hung out in our backyard all day. And in the afternoon, I went out and stalked her and took pictures.

The mosquitoes were very bad in the yard. As bad as I've ever seen them, in fact. I'm sure it's because of all the rain we've had this summer. I got about a dozen new mosquito bites on my legs (yes, through my pants), arms, face, and hands during the 15 to 20 minutes I sat in the yard to get the above photo. (Yes, as all of you know, sometimes there is suffering involved to get the shot.) But it was well worth it: isn't she a beauty!?

In other news, for the past few weeks, my husband and I have been watching the monarch caterpillars on the milkweed in our yard. They have been eating machines until lately, and on this day, all SEVEN of the yellow and black stripey caterpillars marched off the plants to go into their next stage of transformation: the chrysalis!

But there was one caterpillar who did not make the transition. You may recall Oscar, who weathered the heavy rains on the milkweed plants. Well, the sad news is that after we rescued him and put him in a hanging plant pot, with milkweed, he has had good days and bad days. And a few days ago, he stopped eating. Even the finest milkweed didn't tempt him. In the end, all we could do was try to keep him comfortable.

On this morning, I checked on Oscar, only to find that his mighty heart was no longer beating. I put him in a milkweed pod and we said a few quiet words and commended him to his Maker. (You may see a photo of the ceremony in the extras.) Then I placed him in the butterfly garden. Oscar, we loved you well, and if there are caterpillars at the Rainbow Bridge, we will look for you there.

The song for this day is Wayfaring Stranger. Here are two versions: one by Emmylou Harris, and a second by Ed Sheeran.

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