Butterflies LOVE hot sunshine and we’d had such a rainy, dreary summer. This year, I hadn’t had much time for butterfly chasing in the city anyway, but they were noticeably absent at the cottage too. Now that it’s fall, we are experiencing weather that finally feels like July: blue skies and sweltering heat. And butterflies.
It seems I only update this blog during cottage season. I can’t easily carry my big camera around with me during our day-to-day activities, so when we go to the cottage, I try to make up for it.
Here are some photos from our last trip to the cottage, over Canada Day weekend. It has rained pretty much all summer; that weekend was no exception. When we did go outside, it was in rain boots and sweaters. In July.
There weren’t a lot of butterflies (they are most active on hot sunny days) but we found a clutch of chubby monarch caterpillars on one of our walks. There were so many dragonflies too, more than I have ever seen.
It seems absurd to be knitting at this time of year, but that’s how it goes if you want something cozy to wear when it starts to get cool again in September. I started this Mama Vertebrae cardigan sometime in the spring, knowing it would get put down and picked up between heat-waves. All I have left to do are the sleeves and the edging. Getting there!
Our first trip this year was a bit later than usual, but worth the wait. Every year is familiar but always a little different. I have never seen so many dragonflies in past years, and the shy loons have been coming closer to the dock. Maybe I will finally catch a decent picture of them.
It is sweet to walk down the trails with our two-year-old, as she picks flowers and wild strawberries along the way. She loves getting dirty and doesn’t hesitate to climb any rocky hills we encounter. Despite her carsickness and the uncertainty of sleeping in an unfamiliar room, I think it’s going to be a fun summer.
I remembered the last photo from a couple of years ago, and thought it went so well with the first two.
I always take so many photos that it’s hard to narrow them down, so be prepared for more!
One of the things I look forward to most about summer is the hummingbirds buzzing around the cottage. They are mesmerizing to watch, like tiny sequined acrobats. Because so many of us enjoy their presence in our gardens, I thought I would share a little piece of advice about attracting them. Keep in mind I am no expert, but I believe there is just one important thing to consider:
Provide flowers rather than a plastic feeder. Here’s why.
One of a hummingbird’s most important jobs is pollinating. Bees, butterflies, birds, and even bats play a crucial role in this life cycle. Every time they visit a flower, they carry its pollen onto the next flower, regenerating the plants, which in turn feed everyone and everything on the planet. If you want to learn more about why pollination is important, there is a beautiful documentary (currently on Netflix) called Wings of Life. Its amazing cinematography features slow-motion footage of hummingbirds in flight.
Most people don’t realize how often a hummingbird feeder should be cleaned. The general consensus seems to be every couple of days, since the sugar solution can ferment and grow bacteria that can make birds seriously, even fatally, ill. It is an easy thing to forget, and some feeders can be a pain to take apart and clean.
I think we can all agree that flowers are much prettier than a plastic. Photographing birds in their natural surroundings can be more of a challenge but has a much greater reward. When choosing flowers, look for blooms that are brightly coloured and tubular. Beebalm, columbine, buddleia, foxglove, verbena, and honeysuckle will beautify your garden while attracting hummingbirds. Find a list of flowers online and check your hardiness zone to find out what you can plant in your area.
If you decide to use feeders, don’t hang them directly in front of windows. If you have a lot of birds around your home, make sure your windows are “bird-safe.” We’ve all seen the birds of prey silhouette decals, but I recently found some new versions that are more subtle on your windows. They are essentially reflective stickers that show birds a window is a hard surface to be avoided. View them HERE. While it is lovely to see them up-close, it is heartbreaking and TOO close when one hits your window. Believe me.
I hope this inspires you to create a natural environment to bring hummingbirds to your garden. You will love having them visit and you will be doing your part to help pollinators!
I finished another summer dress this weekend. Actually, I impressed myself and managed to do it in one evening! It was a simple, free pattern from Purl Bee, Gathered Summer Top, which I extended to dress length. Essentially I used two fat quarters but just trimmed the edges neatly. Each piece was about 21×21”” inches. After getting started, I realized this pattern involved French seams (which I’ve never tried before) but it was simple enough and the inside seams are so much tidier. I will probably use this for more projects, since I don’t have a serger. I used cotton twill tape for the straps instead of making my own ties, since I only had enough fabric for the dress itself.
Meanwhile, we are being spoiled by the gifts of peonies all around us. They spill onto the sidewalks from our neighbours’ front gardens, and we always stop to smell them. There is really no spring pleasure greater than breathing in their perfume. I took this photo (above) last summer, but I cut an identical bouquet from our front yard last night. My daughter and I spent a few quiet moments before bedtime oohing and ahhing over them. I put them on my bedside table so I could fall asleep and wake up to their scent. Lovely.