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Along The Road, Part 2



Come here! Come here! Summer is on the way!
The Oriole is calling in the blossom-time of May.

We saw to-day along the way seven Snails, three Toads, five Swallowtail Butterflies, and three Blues, five Robins, eighteen Blackbirds, and one Oriole.

At some glad moment was it nature's choice
To dower a scrap of sunset with a voice?

We had a happy time, and on our way home we learned this verse about the Oriole. (It is so interesting to learn each day some verse about some fairy -- in that way we make them our own.)

I know his name, I know his note
That so with rapture takes my soul;
Like flame the gold beneath his throat,
His glossy cap is black as coal,
O, Oriole, it is the song you sang me
from the cottonwood;
Too young to feel that I was young,
Too glad to guess if life were good.
-- Wm. Dean Howells

May 31st -- Saw Fairy-ring Mushrooms on the way to school. In groups and circles were these fairies, whose scientific name is Marasmius oreades.

And the people said when they saw them there,
The Fairy umbrellas out in the rain:
"O Spring has come, so sweet and so fair,
For there are those odd little toadstools again."

I found Romeo, a little street waif, one day in the factory district -- together we found the caterpillars -- soft, velvety ones. And Romeo was not long in making the discovery that there was more jolly fun in raising caterpillars than playing in the street. Soon several of this chums made the same discovery and down slum way on a corner -- a wee, tiny corner -- was this sign: "This way to the Caterpillar Farm," and the way led into Romeo's back yard.
At the caterpillar farm were caterpillars who were going to be -- that is, when they were grown up -- Swallowtails, beautiful yellow and black ones, and Blues, and Silvers.
There were eggs and butterflies laying eggs, too. These were cradles in which were the Monarch Butterflies to be.
Best of all at Caterpillar farm were the happy hearts.

New courage, nobler vision, will survive
That I have known my kinship to the flower,
My brotherhood with rain, and in this vale
Have been a moment's friend to all alive.
-- Holley

Day by day along the road we learn the bigger things of life, we gain a larger vision and find new inspiration in companionship with --

"God of the open air."

The little cares that fretted me,
I lost them yesterday,
Among the fields, above the sea,
Among the winds at play;
Among the lowing of the herds,
The rustling of the trees,
Among the singing of the birds,
The humming of the bees.

The foolish fears of what may happen,
I cast them all away
Among the clover-scented grass,
Among the new-mown hay;
Among the rustling of the corn,
Where the drowsy poppies nod,
Where ill thoughts die and good are born
Out in the fields with God.

Among the willows I saw him -- saw that darling fairy warbler -- he whose throat is yellow, he who wears a black mask, he who is the cousin of many Wood Warblers. Among the weed stalks I have found their cradle made of many grasses. Western Yellowthroat is his name -- Geothlypis trichas occidentalis, his scientific name. We children love this verse about the song of the Yellow-throat fairies. (His cousin in the east is called Maryland Yellowthroat.)

There's magic in the small bird's note --
See -- there he flits -- the Yellow-throat;
A living sunbeam, tipped with wings,
A spark of light that shines and sings
Witchery -- witchery -- witchery.

Learning things is so interesting -- sometimes, which is very often, it is hard -- and we have many things to overcome in learning things. But I am always happy just to a-learning day by day, for God's world is filled with wisdom all 'round about us. Other fairy folk are learning too. Early this morning I quietly watched a wee Birdie a-learning to sing.

The little bird sits in the nest and sings
A shy, soft song to the morning light;
And it flutters a little and primes its wings.
The song is halting, and poor, and brief,
And the fluttering wings scarce stir a leaf.
But the note is prelude to sweeter things
And the busy bill and the flutter slight,
Are proving the wings for a bolder flight!
-- Paul Dunbar

The breeze warbles and the mute, still air
Is music slumbering on her instrument.

June -- St. John's Wort is blooming, he who dwells in Europe and Asia as well as our own America, he to whom many virtues are ascribed -- and whose blossoms for many generations have been hung by European peasants in their windows to keep away evil, and lightning, and witches. Too, upon June 24th, St. John's day, they gathered this plant and used it as a balm for many ills. It came to our land from across the sea. 'Tis a bit of sunshine by the wayside.
What does a Toad like to eat? The best way to find out is to watch. And if one has a great many things to do and has not much time to go afield one can bring Toad eggs from a pond and raise one's own Toads in one's own garden. This is what I have been doing -- and so as I went about in my garden, hoeing and weeding, I have learned that Toads eat -- Snails, Slugs, Cutworms, Earthworms, Sowbugs, Caterpillars, Beetles, and Flies. Sir Toad, like all Toads, has a wonderful tongue. Watch him catch a fly.
It seemeth to me that Flicker hath a goodly number of names -- Red-hammer, High-hole, Woodpecker, and Colaptes cafer collaris. Flicker is not particular about a mansion for a home -- his youngsters are cradled in an old snag near the road. Fortunately for me another old snag tumbled against this snag, and I was able to climb upon the fallen snag to a stub of a limb upon the tree in which the Flickers dwell. Not many days ago there were eight white eggs in that old snag -- and now -- well those wee bits of humanity consume unmeasurable amounts of Ants, Grasshoppers, and berries. Why I have been late twice this week at school just because one pocketful of food called for another. They have yaruping concerts -- all joining in from the youngest to the oldest. The other day I gathered wild strawberries for Grandma. On my way I stopped at Flicker Apartments, and fearing that something might happen to the bucket of berries, it left below, I crawled up the snag with the bucket on my arm. I gave Least Flicker a strawberry. He was pleased and shouted "Yar-up!" Then all his brothers and sisters did the same. Soon my berries were almost gone. They like strawberries like I like potatoes. Flickers are such friendly fairies. As soon as they discovered the source of supply they scrambled over my apron sleeves to the bucket. Then I scooted down the tree and picked some more berries for Grandma.
June 9th -- Today I found the first eggs of Vanessa huntera, the Hunter's Butterfly. There were five yellowish-green eggs I found on June 1st, and the tiny caterpillars from these grew rapidly and soon changed to the chrysalis stage -- then on July 14th into grownup Hunter's Butterflies.


The flower thine eye beholdest today
Hath in god's spirit bloomed eternally.
-- Angelus Silossius, 1650.

June 7th -- By wayside and on hillside near is blooming now "Farewell to Spring". Godetia of the Evening Primrose Family -- Godetia, cousin of Willow Herb, Taraxia and Clarkia, with four satiny pink petals.
June 12th -- 'Tis the time of Bouncing Bet and she blooms along the way. Cousin of Campion, Cockle and Chickweed is she. To her blossoms at evening come the Sphinx Moth fairies. It was some years ago that her ancestors dwelt in Grandmother's garden; but their children became restless and went over the garden wall. Now we meet their descendents by the wayside. Watch the little Bee fairies that come unto this fairy for pollen.

Honey Bee
(Mark Cassino)

June 15th -- When Grandma went out to look at her sassafras today she found a twig chiffoned over so she called me -- they all do when they find pieces of chiffon tied over the twigs. I put that particular piece of chiffon around that particular twig that I might better observe the ways of three pale green little fairies who looked as if Jack Frost had been stroking his fingers over their beaks. Grandma was not pleased because they put their beaks into the twig and pumped the sap. The one that pumped the hardest I named Ormenis Pumper, the Great -- and the next one, Ormenis Pumper, the Lesser -- and the least one of all, Ormenis, the Little Silver Hopper. You see "ormenis" is their scientific name. (Grandfather says they have also another name, "Frosted Lightning Hopper"). They are relatives of the Lantern flies.
June 23rd -- Velvet Plant, traveler from another land, is blooming by the roadside now; and to the flowers come Bees, and also flies. We like its yellow blossoms; but best of all we like its velvety leaves and we think that this coat of felt upon its leaves helps to protect them from the cold in winter (Have you found its velvety rosettes in January?) and the heat in summer. Long ago the Greeks and Romans made lampwicks of the Mullein's dried leaves. In Europe and Asia "Velvet Plant" dwells today as well as in our own America. This Mullein, called "Great Mullein," is a cousin of Moth Mullein, Monkey Flower, Foxglove and Indian Paint Brush -- all these being members of the Figwort family.
June 16th -- Saw him by the road this afternoon -- heard him first -- "Towhee, Towhee." He was in the thicket and then he was scratching among the leaves. Saw him eat two beetles and three grasshoppers. This Towhee fairy is a cousin of Goldfinch, Song Sparrow, Grosbeak, Junco and Indigo Bunting.

Next Chapter:
Along The Road, Part 4