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Passions in Poetry

Robins & Fireflies

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Kit McCallum
Member Laureate
since 04-30-2000
Posts 16920
Ontario, Canada

0 posted 07-10-2004 09:56 AM       View Profile for Kit McCallum   Email Kit McCallum   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kit McCallum

Hi everyone!  I couldnít resist posting a few pictures for you.  We moved back to the country 8 months ago, so this is our first spring and summer at our new place, and I have to say Ö I feel like Iím in heaven with the nature here!

From deer, to groundhogs, to muskrats, to squirrels, to bunnies Ö Iím in furry heaven, but the birds Ö oh, the birds, lol.  

When I was at a flea market, I picked up a full size deer-head made of grapevines.  Shortly after putting it up outside at the back of the house, 2 robins built a perfect little nest on top of it.  They had one batch of babies a while ago, and theyíre back to the same nest, and on to their second set of babies now.  Theyíre a busy little twosome.  I took a few pictures below.  There are 3 babies, and mom and pop come and go, giving us constant entertainment.  I think theyíll be ready to leave the nest this weekend. Hereís a few pictures from this morning.

An unexpected treat out here though, has to be the fireflies.  Iíve never seen so many fireflies in all my life!  

I remember as a child (even an adult), being excited to see just a few fireflies at dusk in the evening -  but out here, almost every night is like a light show display! Itís truly unbelievable.  

As soon as it starts to get dark, they begin to light up. They are absolutely everywhere - like miniature fireworks going off for about an hour and a half solid.  I finally took the camera out the other night, and wondered if I could get any pictures. I just stood there and snapped a few off in different directions, but when I uploaded the pictures to have a look, I didnít think Iíd gotten much of anything. Then surprise, surprise Ö when I zoomed in and looked closer, Iíd caught a few in mid-flash!  

The first picture is the full picture.  The bright firefly is in the upper left corner (I left the chair on the right in the picture so you could see some perspective).  If you look closely, you'll see some other light dots that are much dimmer, and not mid-flash, so they're much harder to see.

The second picture is a close up of that little light dot, lol!  Thatís my firefly.  I couldnít believe it when I zoomed in and had a better look.  Now that I know I can catch some on camera, Iím going to head out tonight and try to snap off a few more to see if I can get a bunch in the same shot. Iíve done a ton of research on these little critters. Theyíre absolutely fascinating. What a treat though, just to sit out and be entertained by them. I think every night I just sit there in awe. It really is phenomenal. There are thousands of them. I can even tell the males from the females now, from the pattern of their flashes. Females make a single blink with a longer pause in between, while the males generally do a three-blink set, then pause. Itís quite the display!

The little light spot in the upper left corner is the firefly (this picture is only 20k, but it's wide - I wanted to leave it large for the clarity):

This is a close-up of the firefly from the picture above:

Anyway, soon, I promise Ö Iíll stop being in awe about being back to the country and begin to write more again and tackle a few smilies.

For now, I think Iím just enjoying mother nature at her finest, and I donít want to miss a second of her, lol.

Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart

1 posted 07-10-2004 10:13 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Isn't life grand!  Wonderful pictures, Kit!
Poet deVine
Member Empyrean
since 05-26-99
Posts 25869
Hurricane Alley

2 posted 07-10-2004 11:35 AM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

Great pics!!! I also grew up seeing fireflies at night...I love them..I would like to think they're fairies though. Keep the magic alive!

Thanks Kit!
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US

3 posted 07-10-2004 12:07 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I hate fireflies.

Seven years ago this week, after having moved back to Michigan only a few days earlier, I hit my first and (so far) only "something" while driving back from Coldwater, a thirty mile trip on decidingly country roads. Night had long since fallen when my something dashed from the side of the road directly into the path of my right front tire. Thump! It might have been an opossum, a badger, or maybe a raccoon. It was something.

I didn't care for the feeling it left behind, and since about 99 percent of my driving is on two-lane country roads, I quickly trained myself to scan the sides of the road every bit as much as I watch the roads themselves. I've never hit another animal, knock on wood, and people who ride with me are often surprised when I can point out deer or other critters every few miles that most drivers never notice.

Part of the trick is to "sense" movement, part of it is to know the direction various animals travel at different times of the day, and a very large part of it is to watch for reflections. Dusk is the most dangerous time of the day, as both diurnal and nocturnal animals are often on the move, the former returning to their lairs after a day of foraging widely, while the latter are leaving theirs to begin a night of hunting. It's also more dangerous because, as the dark quickly deepens, it becomes impossible to sense movements.

I very quickly learned, however, to watch for reflecting eyes. As an animal approaches the road, still invisible in the darkness, their eyes would catch the light from my headlights and reflect it back to me like a tiny Christmas decoration. Within days of this discovery, I developed a synaptic path between my eyes and right foot. Without conscious thought, spying a reflection along the side of the road would move my foot from accelerator to brake. Reflecting eyes don't provide a lot of warning, nor time for much thought, and the ingrained reflex action was all that helped me avoid adding to the road kill count.

You can perhaps imagine my confusion and frustration when, returning home one night that first year back in Michigan, I discovered *hundreds* of reflecting eye balls within close proximity to the road. I probably went through a whole set of brake pads that evening, as my carefully honed reflexes continuously jerked the Miata to emergency stops. The fireflies came late that summer, as they've come early this year, and their arrival very nearly put me into a catatonic state. I'm still not sure why God would choose to put wings on a reflecting eyeball, but I suspect He had a good belly laugh that first night I discovered His joke.

During the few weeks when our firefly population matches the stars in the sky, I am careful to rearrange my schedule and make sure I'm home well before dusk settles. The alternative, I fear, would surely be a nervous breakdown.
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Member Patricius
since 03-09-2001
Posts 12129
Idaho, USA

4 posted 07-10-2004 12:36 PM       View Profile for Trillium   Email Trillium   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trillium

Dear Kit:  I've never lived where there are fireflies and after reading Ron's account of seeing them, perhaps I'm lucky?  I don't think you'll ever tire of country life. we've lived in the country for over 30 years now and it's still wonderful. Ron and I followed a moose up the road for over a mile last week and were thrilled to pieces.
The deer are now coming out with their little fawns and they are adorable. There's always something new to see.
I loved the pictures. The only picture I've gotten lately is a Pale Swallowtail butterfly on some petunias!  I never remember to take my camera when we go walking.

Betty Lou

Betty Lou Hebert

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Member Laureate
since 03-07-2001
Posts 19652
British Columbia, Canada

5 posted 07-10-2004 01:35 PM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

YOU, Mrs. Snow White will never get tired of the country.  You know that saying don't you?  You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't, no you can't, take the country out of a girl?  Now, word is, they wrote that for you  

I have NEVER seen a firefly, and I have loved them (or the idea of them,) since I was a kid.  Guess I will just have to come and climb a certain willow tree, sit with a dear friend, and watch for them you think?  

Ron, you absolutely amaze me!  Now if I got birds in my garage, I would simply exclaim, "oh cuuutttee!" then feed them, and all their relatives.  What do you do?  You turn into a walking barn swallow encyclopedia     Now you tell me you "sense" what way wildlife will walk? Seems to me all this time I thought you didn't like bunnies, you were growing that lettuce just to feed them.     You can probably can tell me more about bunnies than anyone would care to know and then some. Well now, ...(ellipses just for you) I can actually buy your advice as I "feel" the tip of my fishing rod for vibrations.  I love to catch fish, and then let them go.  I caught one old timer called, "Old Red," the largest trout in Sheridan Lake, and people are still talking about me letting him go.  I figured if he lived that long, who was I to decide his life was over? By the way, you actually cost me $31.50 as I went out and bought the J. J. Audubon "The Birds Of America" so I can keep up with all the American birds you all are mentioning.  I have cute chickadees, don't I Kit?

Well Kit, I would sure send the picture of the silly robins somewhere - that is priceless.  You all have a glorious day with nature ya hear?

Imagination is more important than knowledge...
Albert Einstein
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart

6 posted 07-10-2004 01:41 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Smiling with you tell me, out on the patio at night, watching children play as they aspire to catch flitting fireflies...drinking lemonade or tea or other beverages...

that doesn't appeal to your senses?

But I sure enjoyed the story...
Member Rara Avis
since 11-18-2002
Posts 7451
the ass-end of space

7 posted 07-10-2004 04:26 PM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

Very nice Kit, I used to travel North for pike in Honey Harbour. Not that I ever really liked to fish, I just went for the calm. There is nothing, nothing more heavenly then hearing the call of a loon.

For those who've never heard one:
Member Seraphic
since 05-20-99
Posts 24426
Cape Cod Massachusetts USA

8 posted 07-10-2004 05:02 PM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

Don't anyone tell Ron - But there's long since been a bumper sticker on the back of the Miata that says, "This vehicle stops for fireflies."  He hasn't hit one yet, either...

I love your pics, Kit - This is a wunnerful excerpt from Nature's north...
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US

9 posted 07-10-2004 10:59 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Mysteria, I don't sense which direction wildlife will travel, but I do try to keep track of the nearest bodies of water and where the animals are most likely to be nesting. When you see a group of deer crossing the road in the morning, you can be fairly sure they'll be crossing the same road later that evening. And they'll likely be using the same paths tomorrow. Animals, like people, are creatures of habit.

Karilea, I do enjoy watching the fireflies from my back deck. But that's only because I don't have to worry about the back deck smashing into a critter at 60 miles per hour.
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Member Seraphic
since 09-29-2002
Posts 20064
Florida, USA

10 posted 07-11-2004 01:35 PM       View Profile for garysgirl   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit garysgirl's Home Page   View IP for garysgirl

Ron, I sure do wish that I had read your lesson when I first moved out here in the country. I had lived in the city all my life, and it was quite a surprise to see all the critters coming out at night.

At Church they started calling me the night hunter, to my dismay. I hated it when the deer ran into me. It happened a couple of times. Now I look on either side of the road when I'm driving at night. I don't even like people hunting deer, or any other wild life, when it isn't necessary for food. The Blackwater Forest, near where I live, is full of hunters during hunting season. I don't like the sport of hunting at all.

And, Ron, I love the way you called the fireflies a "reflecting eyeball with wings". LOL

Kit, isn't it fun taking pictures of nature? I've gotten in the habit of taking my camera almost everywhere I go. I love your pictures, and I hope that you always keep sharing them with us.
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