Paying attention, being astonished

The oppressive, hot, and dry days of July have given way to cooler, cloudier, rainier days of August here in the upper South. I am deeply grateful for the change. It has given us a chance to spend less time watering our fledgling plants and vegetable gardens and more time paying attention to the subtle and wonderful changes happening in our yarden.

While nature’s magic is all around us all of the time, it has a deeper impact when we slow down and pay attention to it, soaking up its beauty and lessons like the gardens soaking up the rains.

Our pollinator garden has blossomed with color, and those blooms and the seeds that follow are attracting some lovely visitors…

Eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies
Dark morph Eastern tiger swallowtail
Goldfinches have been frequent visitors, dining on the Black-eyed Susan seeds
Goldfinches eating seeds
The ruby-throated hummingbirds divide their time between the feeder in the front yard and the cardinal flower and other blooms in the back yard.
We had our first monarch show up on the milkweeds yesterday!
An Ailanthus webworm moth on anise hyssop flowers

In addition to the pollinator attractions, our woods have been full of activity lately…

A pair of pileated woodpeckers have been noisily announcing their presence lately…
Just a hint of red on the morning silhouette of this pileated woodpecker
A lonely snail on a tulip poplar down by the creek.

As is the case with this lovely snail, sometimes the activity is slow, quiet, and small, but no less important. It reminds me that there are so many people in the world right now who are both valuable and an integral part of the web of our lives, yet practically invisible to those in power. Yet, like in nature, their plight impacts the lives of every one of us and our actions impact theirs. We are all in this together. We are connected through every strand of society and every facet of ecology. These connections cannot be ignored or diminished or we risk our own peril.

Mary Oliver said pay attention, be astonished, tell about it.

Nature is the best teacher. Slow down, pay attention, live and learn. Find the connections, build strong and resilient systems, value every part.


  1. What a treat to see these beautiful creatures. I love the photo of the pileated—all silhouetted except for the tiny splash of red crest.

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