I’ll continue with the butterfly theme this week, and I have the Reading Rainbow song stuck in my head as I’m writing this. It’s fitting, considering the butterfly exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History is mostly targeted towards kids. But it was probably the highlight of last week for me. I mean, compared to staring at a computer screen in a semi-cubicle in a freezing, air-conditioned hallway, being surrounded by butterflies as they dart about your head for 20 minutes was pretty much like heaven. All of a sudden it was like being transported to a rainforest – no longer in DC. It makes you feel like a kid again. I highly suggest it, and it’s free on Tuesdays. And free is always cool.
I watched this butterfly flit around a Virginia farm this past weekend and thought of this story. While studying nearly extinct Large Blue Butterflies, British researchers realized that the caterpillar feeds on a certain type of plant. To get it, the caterpillar tricks one specific type of ant to carry it into the ants’ nest, where the caterpillar feeds on the ants’ stores all winter long. But because local rabbits faced an epidemic, they couldn’t graze on the grasses as much, which changed the soil temperatures. The ants were crowded out by another ant species that preferred low soil temps. One change in land use threw off the whole system. Once researchers realized the problem and maintained grass height, the butterflies again flourished. It’s amazing that such small creatures can be so important.
Swimming. Although I live in one of those very nice but somewhat personality-less complexes, I’ve been loving my pool. And the swimming holes last weekend were possibly the best day of the entire summer. The East coast had the best summer ever up until August. An article in Slate years ago said August should be removed altogether. It’s no good. I’ll second that (at least for any location below maybe 6,000 feet). Except for swimming August is the pits. Not only is it hard to want to go outside for lunch or to walk your dog, it’s difficult to want to pick up the camera. But I’ve been missing it so much that I had to pick it up again. I took a long break while I moved around and got a job and got situated and somewhat settled, but I’ve decided that whether it’s hot, humid, sticky, and horribly uncomfortable August or not, it’s time to get addicted to photos again. So it’s of no surprise to my poor friends and family when I focus the lens on them. Thank you Nicole and Wendy and Evan for being great subjects!
Many people don’t know this, but Virginia has some really lovely swimming holes. This one, “The Ponds,” is only about two hours from DC, but seems lifetimes away. Take a trip and you’ll be transported back to a simpler place, where people eat food from their farms, sit on porches to watch sunsets, and play in the woods. It’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the urban landscape, and it’s something I crave a lot, if not most of the time. The water was just cold enough to be refreshing and deep enough to jump in, and the hike in and out was easy so you don’t lose that whole nature-fresh clean feeling by the time you get back to your car.
So it’s come to this. Instead of shooting the neighboring elk and spying on coyote, I’m shooting the darn tomato worm that snuck onto my urban plant. The dang thang just wouldn’t budge, so I had to trim the plant and throw the trimming in the bushes. Although the plant has overcome the loss of a handful of eaten leaves, it still shows no signs of fruit. Maybe it’s not getting enough sun. Maybe I’m not either. The adjustment to city life isn’t easy. It’s just so difficult finding inner peace when your surroundings aren’t peaceful. So I’m working on it. For me, photography helps a lot. I’ve been off the wagon for a while, but now I’m back. More photos coming soon.