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Along The Road, Part 3


American Robin
Turdus migratorius
(Peter LaTourrette)

Ethereal Navigator

June 9th -- June time is Rose time. Wild Roses and Sweetbrier are blooming along the way. We children love to stop and watch them and leave them blooming there. Flower-friends are such lovely fairies, and do you know the most joy comes from leaving them blooming where we find them? Sometimes it is well to gather a few to carry to those who cannot come out unto the flower -- but best of all is the abiding joy that comes from loving them and leaving them in blossom where we find them. Have you learned a part of what the poets have written about Rose fairies? Did you know that Strawberry, Bridal Wreath, Cherry and Meadowsweet are all cousins of the Rose?
June 15th -- Ladybird Beetles -- Just the name has so much in it. And the grown-ups, they said just the word "Ladybird" takes them back again to when they were little boys and girls and sang "Ladybird" -- we have a Ladybird nursery with Ladybirds in all stages of growth; the little yellow eggs, the queer velvety, warty and spotted larvae who came out of like eggs, the cradles, and grown-up Ladybirds -- and the wonderful thing about it all is that no one has scolded us, not even a tiny bit. You see last year, when the plant lice were in armies upon two of Grandpa's favorite apple trees, we took from our nursery many larvae that were to be Ladybirds when they grew up, and placed them among the plant lice on the apple trees. Now, if there is one thing a baby Ladybird or a grown-up Ladybird likes it is plant-lice. Those Ladybirds-to-be had a great feast on each apple tree; and we children won the day. All opposition to our Ladybird nursery was withdrawn -- so in this our second year we have a flourishing nursery. Why don't you have a Ladybird nursery? Have you looked for their eggs and larvae on cherry, apple, or other trees and plants infested with plant-lice?
To-day we found nine Robin's nests: seven in Fir trees, one in the Apple tree, and one in the Cherry tree. We said this verse softly to Mother robin in Cherry Tree. We helped to feed her babies last month, and she knows us.

We have a secret, just we three,
The robin and I and the sweet cherry tree;
The bird told the tree and the tree told me,
And nobody knows it but just we three;
But of course the robin knows it best,
Because he built it -- I shan't tell the rest;
And laid the four -- somethings in it --
I am afraid I shall tell it every minute.
But if the tree and the robin don't peep,
I'll try my best the secret to keep;
Though I know when the little birds fly about,
Then the whole secret will be out.

Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?
Loved the wood-rose and left it on its stalk?
O, be my friend, and teach me to be thine.
-- Emerson

June 2nd -- A wonderful jewel we say today -- the plump chrysalis of a Monarch Butterfly. Emerald green with a few gold dots -- there it hung like an ear-drop on the old rail fence.

The old rail fence, with aimless angles
Curved round the scented fields of old;
And wild blown vines in quaintest tangles
Bloomed there in purple and in gold.

June 3rd -- O the wonders of this Fairyland -- we find them everyday in the field and along the way. To-day -- early in the morning -- we were about looking at the work of the Fairy Builders -- they who make of silk suspension bridges and wonderful webs. There were jewel dew-drops on the webs of the Spider fairies. Have you watched them make their webs?

Here shy Arachne winds her endless thread,
And weaves her silken tapestry unseen,
Veiling the rough-hewn timbers overhead,
And looping gossamer festoons between.
-- Elizabeth Akers

Saw to-day some queer little flowerless fairies, which looked like tiny bird's nest containing eggs. They are called bird's nest fungi -- and what looks like a tiny nest is really the cradle of the Baby Spores, who will be when they grow up, Nidulariales.

Oh! the bonny, bonny dell,
whaur the primroses won
Lookin' oot o' their leaves
like wee sons o' the sun
Whaur the wild roses shine
like flickers o' flame,
And fa' at the touch
wi' a dainty shame;
Whaur the bee swings ower
the white, clovery sod,
And the butterfly flits
like a stray thocht o' God.
-- Macdonald

June 9th -- This evening we watched the Primroses blossom along the road -- they who are cousins of Star-flower and Cyclamen. Last winter we found along the way the rosettes of their leaves. As we lingered near them tonight Sphinx-moths came unto the blossoms. It was only last year that upon a Primrose plant growing in a garden there lived and grew three caterpillars who became dainty Alaria florida moths -- they who are pollen-carriers of evening Primrose fairies.

Children came
To watch the primrose blow. Silent they stood,
Hand clasped in hand, in breathless hush around
And saw her shyly doff her soft green hood
And blossom -- with a silken burst of sound.
-- Margaret Deland

Mourning Dove
(Mark Cassino)

Thou art only a gray and sober dove,
But thine eye is faith and thy wing is love.
-- Lanier

Along the road today we found the home of Mourning Dove, and it was in a tree on a branch twelve feet up from the ground. In it were two eggs -- two white ones. The nest itself was not in keeping with Dear Mother Dove, for it was only a frail platform of twigs. And along the way we heard Dove notes. We have learned that these Dove fairies like to eat millipedes and other insects, snails, weed seeds and acorns. Sometimes in the barnyard we give them grain, which pleases them, and they come again. Their scientific name is Zenaidura macroura.

So sweet, so sweet the calling of the thrushes,
The calling, cooing, wooing, everywhere,
So sweet the water's song
through reeds and rushes,
The plover's piping note, now here, now there.

There is much music all the day -- I hear it wherever I go -- in the fields, in the woods, along the stream, by wayside -- and the other day on a street in the heart of the city I heard a Cricket.
To-day I found seven caterpillars of the Silver Spot Butterflies hidden under the rail fence. I have never found them feeding during the day-time, but the other evening in the moonlight I found three feeding on violet leaves. Two years ago, when I raised fifty-three Silver Spot Butterflies, the caterpillars ate not at all in the daytime, but when I got up in the night to see what they were doing I would find them eating. Their menu consisted entirely of violet leaves.
-- O, those Stinkhorn Mushroom fairies -- what do they have such an awful smell for? We children wanted to know, so we watched a little distant and saw many Flies come unto them, seemingly drawn by this odor. Now isn't it likely that these flies will carry away Baby Spores on their feet, and the said Baby Stinkhorns will grow in some other place? Watch for the Flies about Stinkhorns.
June 16th -- All along the way Filaree fairies are blooming -- pink blossoms now; but soon seed time will come and then we see clearly the reason for its name "Alfilerilla," which is Spanish from Alfiler, meaning needle. Storkbill, Clocks and Scissors are its other names. Why? Filaree belongs to the Geranium family.
June 24th -- Along the old rail fence, on the other side of the rails, we found today six chrysalides (in color like unto the fence). And last year from cradles like unto these came Velvet-Cloak Butterflies.

And with childlike, credulous affection
We behold those tender wings expand,
Emblems of our own great resurrection,
Emblems of the bright and better land.
-- Longfellow

Above the tumult of the canyon lifted,
The gray hawk breathless hung,
O'er on the hill a winged shadow drifted,
Where furze and thorn-bush clung.
-- Bret Harte

June 24th -- I've been watching Hawks today. They are wonderful sailors -- my! how we children wish that we could sail through the air as they do; but then there are so many wonderful things down on earth to learn about that life will always be full of wonderful hours. Knowing who is who and which is which in Fairyland is much more interesting than just knowing that is a tree, this is a fern, that is a bird. Speaking of Hawks -- there are the Red-Tail Hawk, Sparrow Hawk, and Swainson Hawk; all respectable Hawks and a blessing to the former in helping to keep rodents in check. Yet these same Hawks suffer more or less, usually more, for the misdeeds of Sharpshined Hawk, Goshawk, and Cooper Hawk -- they who kill the wild birds and poultry. We children are busy campaigning now, helping the farmers hereabout to learn to distinguish between their Hawk friends and Hawk foes. Thus it is written in the book of Nature, "Know thy friends, Redtail Hawk, Swainson Hawk, and Sparrow Hawk, for great is their service unto thee on thy farm."
June 20th -- "Raspberry Apartment House" that's the label I tied on to a broken twig of one of Grandpa's raspberry vines. Now he wants to know the reason why. Why -- Mother Carpenter Bee started making the inside of that twig into an apartment house in May. I watched her coming and going. I know how it is inside because it is years since I found the first one. (I was six -- and now I am nine). Inside the twig in separate little apartments made by herself are little Bee folks to be. She tunnels out the twig and at the bottom places pollen and bee-bread -- and of course it is for the Baby-bee to be. After she has placed the egg in the first apartment she roofs it over with pith chips glued together -- (You see she first took the pith out in making the tunnel). Then the roof of the first apartment serves as the floor for the second apartment and there again pollen and bee bread and the egg are placed; and so on up to the top of the apartment house -- but near the door dear little Mother Carpenter Bee reserves a bit of room for herself. Within each apartment is going on the wonderful change from egghood to grown-up bee-hood. And it is rather funny about their getting out -- the Oldest Brother or Sister Bee born in the bottom apartment can't get out of the apartment house until youngest Little Brother or Sister at the top grows up. Meanwhile, being grown-up and eager to be out he just tears down the roof over his head and kicks the tiny fragments behind him -- so on does each brother as he grows up. Then when Last Brother is grown-up they all fly out -- darling little fairies with rainbow wings. Isn't this a Wonderful Fairyland?

Western Red-Tail Hawk
Buteo Borealis Calurus

July 7th -- This world is made up of big fairies, little fairies, littler fairies, and least ones. Some of the littler ones are Leaf-miners. We have been out inspecting their work to-day. They are the very little elves who cause many of those meandering lines and blister spots upon the beautiful leaves of plants and trees. These elves are larvae that are to be, when they grow up, tiny Moths or Beetles or Flies. (Nearly all those we have brought in have changed into tiny Moths.) Today we found little mines on the leaves of Pine, Nasturtium, Spinach, Columbine, Oak, Burdock, and Apple in a few minutes search.
July 8th -- In the thicket and along the fence dwell Nightshade fairies. They whose other names are Bittersweet, Snakeberry, and Solanum; they who are cousins of Tomato, Potato, and Egg-plant. Nightshade has such beautiful berries, but Grandpa says that I must not eat them and of course he knows best.
July 19th -- Watched a Mother Scorpion hurrying about to-day with two little Scorpion babies clinging to her by their pinchers. She hid among the roots of an old stump.
Wood Betony is blooming now -- she whose other names are Beefsteak Plant and High Heal-All, she who belongs to Figwort family and is therefore a cousin of Mullein, Butter-and-Eggs, Monkey-flower, and Foxgloves. Sometimes she dwells in the thickets and sometimes in open woods. We saw Bumble-bees come unto her blossoms. Have you heard of Betony, who dwells in Europe and is well known in folk-lore?
July -- We children sat down by the road to-day and watched the Ants for two whole hours; and we forget all about the time; they were so interesting. We saw them come out of their homes and go here and yonder. They were constantly going after and bringing in food. One Ant came along backward pulling along an insect lager than she was. Then one nest of Ants we saw frightened and they scurried away in all directions carrying pupae -- which looked like grains of wheat. In one home we saw Ant eggs, which are about the size of a pinpoint and oblong. Have you watched the Ants milking plant-lice? To-day we observed them as they crawled up plant-stems and milked their cows, the plant-lice, by gently patting and stroking them with their antennae. Every moment watching Ants is full of interest. They are such busy folks.

My child, behold the cheerful ant,
How hard she works, each day
She works as hard as adamant,
Which is very hard, they say.

Over the shoulders and slopes of the dune
I saw the white daisies go down to the sea;
A host in the sunshine, an army in June --
The people God sends to set our hearts free.
The bobolinks rallied them up from the dell,
The orioles whistled them out of the wood,
And all their dancing was "Earth it is well,"
And all their saying was "Life thou art good."
-- Bliss Carmen

We saw him on a thistle -- for a moment he stopped at the thistle, then straight to the Cottonwood tree he flew. To the Cottonwood tree we softly hurried too. We peered about, in and out among the branches -- then we caught a glimpse of a hanging basket cradle. And keeping still we heard wee tiny voices -- voices of Baby Orioles calling for breakfast, dinner, and supper. We waited and watched -- and as we waited saw Mother and Father Oriole come with insects and wild berries. All this was the day that was the day before yesterday. To-day we children brought insects and berries to the four wee bits of Oriole humanity who have so recently come out of four grayish white eggs. Softly the cradle of Icterus bullocki swings in the wind.
O, who are they who wear the sunshine color -- who wear yellow? Now, there are Meadowlark and Dandelion, Summer Warbler and Yellow Primrose, Goldfinch and Sunflower, Orioles and Field Lilies, Yellow Violets and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Yellow Star-grass and Horned Larks, Yellow-throat Warblers and Marsh Marigold, Buttercups and Verdins, Sulphur Butterflies and some Swallowtail Butterflies, too. Then Emperor Moth, Butter and Eggs, and also St. John's Wort. Who else can you think of who wear yellow?

The paths, the woods, the heavens, the hills,
Are not a world today
But just a place God made for us
In which to play.

We have been having play school today, now that school is out. I happen to be chosen as teacher -- my dear pupils are some of the other children of the lumber camp. We play school one day, sometimes two days a week. Part of the time we sit on the rail fence by the pasture bars and talk things over, or sit on an old log in the woods, an often we have school up in the trees To-day we talked about the Fringilidae Family -- that is such a big family, you know. Why all of these fairies belong to that family -- Goldfinch, Grosbeak, Purple Finch, Song Sparrow, Towhee, Junco, Vesper Sparrow, Crossbill, Redpoll, Snowflake, Tree Sparrow, Cardinal, Chipping Sparrow, Indigo and Lazuli Bunting.


Howdy, Mister Hop-Toad!
Glad to see you out!
Bin a month o' Sundays
since I see you hereabout.
Mister Hop-Toad, honest true
-- Springtime -- don't you love it?
You old rusty rascal, you,
at the bottom of it!
Swell that fat old throat o' yourn
and lemme see you swaller
Straighten up and h'ist your head!
You don't owe a dollar!
Hulk, sulk, and blink away,
you old bloat-eyed rowdy!
Hain't you got a word to say?
Won't you tell me howdy?
-- Riley

July 2nd -- Today little James, who came day before yesterday from New York to spend the summer on the ranch, came rushing into the house, the while telling us about and urging us to come and see the hippopotamus he had just discovered, almost half a mile away. That hippopotamus of James' discovery proved to be a toad -- and this last hour James and I have been having a grave discussion about toads -- and he is going to be friends with all toads -- this toad in particular, whom he has named "Hippo." Already he has given him two fat worms and brought him home to dwell in the garden. (He belongs in the garden, anyway, and his other name is Simeon Peter -- now he will have two people to give him fat worms. I'm glad James found him, and, being as he is so much interested in naming him "Hippo," I don't think I'd best tell him about his already being named Simeon Peter.)

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things, both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
-- Coleridge

July 3rd -- We watched Kingbird catching grasshoppers this afternoon. He was very busily occupied. We kept very quiet (unless one keeps quiet it is almost impossible to observe the ways of many of our Fairy friends). We saw him take three caterpillars, too. In all the days we have watched him his menu has consisted of insects -- and he is the farmer's friend. Did you know that Kingbird is a cousin of Phoebe, Flycatcher, and Wood Pewee? Last year the Kingbirds nested in an old snag by the side of the road. Merry times we children had climbing up that old snag to feed those four baby Kingbirds. They are especially fond of caterpillars and grasshoppers. And their cradle -- aside from weed stems, twigs, little roots and plant fibers, also had bits of wool, colored string, and a piece of lace curtain (which hung over the edge).
July 6th -- The Painted Lady Butterfly, whose other name is Thistle Butterfly, we often see and each year we raise them; feeding the caterpillars on a diet of nettle and thistle. We children like to think of the children in other lands, who, too, can watch this butterfly, for in Europe, Africa, Australia, South America and many islands of the sea dwell the Thistle Butterflies.

Upon his painted wings the Butterfly
Roamed a gay blossom of the summer sky.
-- Clark

The Butterflies I saw along the way to-day were: Swallowtails (two different kinds); Monarchs, whose other names are Anosia plexippus and Milkweed Butterfly; Blues, those wee ones who hover about mud puddles, and whose scientific name is Lycaena; Anglewings -- those dear brownish ones who are called Comma Butterflies, and Grapta comma; Checkerspits with lovely velvet black and bits of yellow on top and checkered red and yellow underneath, and who are called Melitaea; Sulphurs, Colias, hovering over the clover; Silverspots, they whose scientific name is Argynnis, they whose caterpillars I've found feeding on violet leaves in night time; Mourning Cloak, Vanessa antiopa, who is also called Camberwell Beauty; Painted Lady, she who dwells in many lands and is also called Thistle Butterfly and Pyrameis cardui; Wood-nymph of Genus Satyrus; and about Oak tree White Admiral of the Genus Basilarchia.

The wandering rivulets dancing through the grass,
The gambols, low or loud, of insect-life,
The cheerful call of cattle in the vales,
Sweet natural sounds of the contented hours.

Then we came unto Lazuli Bunting, whose scientific name is Cyanospiza amoena. This exquisite fairy wearing turquoise blue is a cousin of Goldfinch, Junco, Towhee, Song Sparrow, Grosbeak, and Crossbill. In the willows by the stream was the nest of a Lazuli Bunting and in this home were three pale greenish eggs.

God spreads a carpet soft and green
o'er which we pass;
A thick piled mat of jeweled sheen --
and that is grass.
-- Arthur Powell

In the cool of the evening,
when the low sweet whispers waken,
In the beauty of the twilight,
in the garden that He loveth,
The sunset winds,
they wander through the heather,
The singing winds,
they bow the reeds in the prayer together,
Rustle all the meadow-grass
and bend the dewy fern.

How sweet is eveningtime along the road -- the music of the breeze, the prayer whispers of the Earth-folk -- the twilight chorus, and now I hear the Vesper Sparrow sing --

It comes from childhood's land,
where summer days are long
And summer eves are bland --
a lulling good-night song.
Upon a pasture stone
against the fading West
A small bird sings alone,
then dives and finds his nest.
The evening star has heard
and flutters into sight;
Oh childhood's vesper bird,
my heart calls back "Good-night."
-- Thomas

Next Chapter:
Along The Road, Part 5