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Along The Road, Part 4


The Butterfly

Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis
(Barbara Money)
Ethereal Navigator

Common Mallow
Elementary Science Program of Spencerport

Wood Betony
Pedicularis canadensis
(Michael Thompson)

Cirsium occidentale
(Brother Alfred Brousseau)

Yellow Monkeyflower
(Ann Telling)

Lewis' Monkeyflower
(Ann Telling)

Pale Jewel Weed
(David Fankhauser)

(Lisa Osta)

(Mark Cassino)

These are notes of joy from the hang-bird and wren
And the gossip of swallows through all the sky;
The ground-squirrel gayly chirps by his den,
And the wilding bee hums merrily by.
-- Bryant

Today I went a-seeing for Beetles, and larvae that were to be Beetles when they grow up. With me went my pet Toad, Bufo Boreas (that's his scientific name), and my pet Frog, Rana Aurora (that's his scientific name). Sometimes the scientific names o' folks make very suitable everyday names -- so I have found. It was Beetles we were seeking for to-day, and these are they whom we met along the way -- Scarabadae, Carabadae, Cicindelidae, and Buprestidae.
About insects: It is rather puzzling the way grown-ups apply that name to so many Fairy Folk who are not insects. Now, a spider is not an insect -- his body is divided into two parts (his head and chest in one and his abdomen forming the other part) -- and insect's body consists of three parts (his head, thorax or chest, and abdomen). Also about the matter of legs: Every insect, when he or she grows up, has three pairs of legs -- each pair consisting of two legs -- making a total of six legs. Now, we know a spider has more than six legs. And about Millipedes, Centipedes and Sowbugs -- goodness knows anyone with eyes ought to see plainly that these folks o' Fairyland have an abundance of legs -- referring particularly to Sir Millipede. They who are insects are these -- Bees, Ants, Grasshoppers, Dragon Flies, Butterflies, Moths, Beetles, Wasps -- and there are many more. All those belonging in the higher scale of insect life pass through wonderful changes and are transformed. These four stages are egg, larval, pupae, and perfect insect with wings. But not so they who belong in the lower scale -- Bugs. The young o' Bugs when they hatch look a bit like Mother and Father Bug.
Speaking of Bugs -- all Bugs are insects, but not all insects are Bugs. Some bugs have wings and some have none; but all Bugs have mouth parts for piercing or sucking. Now, among Bugs are these: Water Bug (Belostoma), Squash Bug and Plant Lice.
How we children love the Wild Thyme as it blossoms by the wayside from June to September. Did you know that Thyme was used as an incense in Greek temples? Have you watched the Bees and Butterflies come to its blossoms? It belongs to the Mint family. Who are some of its cousins? We children like this verse:

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and wit eglantine.
-- Shakespeare

July 5th -- Sometimes I share my bread and jam with the Yellowjackets who have a home on a bush by the road twenty trees and one distant from the garden. To-day I climbed upon the old rail fence close to their home with a piece and a half of bread and jam -- the half piece for them and the piece for myself -- But they all wanted to be served at once, so it became necessary to turn over all bread and jam on hand. I broke it into little pieces and they had a royal feast right there on the old fence rail. I wanted my bread and jam -- but then Yellowjackets are such interesting fairies, being among the worlds first paper-makers -- and baby Yellowjackets are such chubby youngsters. (Have you seen them in their cells within their paper homes?) Thinking on these things made it a joy to share one's bread and jam with these Wasp fairies.
July 9th -- This morning we watched a Velvet Cloak Butterfly come from its chrysalis.
July 12th -- As we watched Foxglove fairies by the roadside today we saw Bumble-Bees enter their blossoms upside-down; and truly, in doing so, they looked much like miniature clowns. Upon the Foxglove leaves caterpillars of Peacock Butterflies were feeding. The story of why Foxgloves were so named is that long ago sly foxes used these blossoms on their feet that they might not be heard as they went about. Foxgloves are also called Fairy Thimbles and Digitalis. They are cousins of Monkey Flower, Indian Paint Brush and Mullein.
July 13th -- What makes that "snakespit" or "frogspit" on the stems of plants? Do you sometimes wonder who causes it? We did -- but do not now. We wanted so much to know that we started in to find out and learned -- that he is neither Frog nor Snake. The elf who does that is hidden under the frothy mass. He is a little insect of the family Cercopidae, and his common name is Spittle insect. It was in the fall that we found their eggs upon the stems of plants and weeds. We brought them home and kept them until they hatched in the spring. When again you see "frogspit" on a plant look for the elf under the frothy mass. One day I saw Wasp fairy looking for him.
July 20th -- Have been exploring today for some fairy lions -- and found seven. Of course there are lions in Fairyland. These I found to-day were Ant Lions. Ant Lions, when they grow up, become beautiful fairies with four wings, and they look somewhat like Dragon flies. But it is before they grow up that they are lions -- they dig pits and wait and wait for ants passing to tumble into these pits. While I was watching them this afternoon one ant came scurrying by and tumbled in the pit. Soon the lion had her. I brought home and Ant Lion in a jar of sand, and already he is trying to make a pit. Have you watched them? Their other name is "Doodle-bug."

The dust of the roadside is vocal;
There is music from every clod;
Bird and breeze are the wild flower's angels,
Their messages bearing to God.

July 17th -- Now time is weed time -- and we children find weeds very interesting. Today we found many Running Mallows with their small, pale blossoms. At four o'clock we held a reception for all relatives of the Weed Mallow. Those invited were Cousin Swamp Rose Mallow, who dwells on the bank of the stream; Cousin Velvet Leaf, who dwells by the wayside and whose ancestors came over from India; cousin Hollyhock, from grandmother's garden, and Rose of Sharon. So, truly, our interest in a weed grows as we learn to know its relatives. Little Edna says, "Weed Running Mallow's being a cousin to Rose of Sharon isn't the only reason why we like it. The big reason is the cradles it provides for its baby seeds -- those doll cheeses." Watch out for them.
July 21st -- Today in the garden I found two garter snakes, including pet frogs in their menu. Then that Aristotle and Pliny, and the three Ptolemies, and thirteen other pet frogs might not perish likewise from the face of the earth, I carefully removed them, handsfull and pocketsfull at a time, to the butterfly room, into which no creeping thing (snakes in particular) could enter. But even as the day began with tragedy, so it ended for seventy-seven of my caterpillars (which I had raised from the eggs, and which were to have been -- that is when they were grown-up -- Mourning Cloak butterflies, Vanessa Antiopas were consumed by the above mentioned frogs.
July 23rd -- Have you ever noticed how many of the wayside flowers wear the sunshine's color -- wear yellow of different shades? We started out to find all who wore yellow and the first one we came to was Butter and Eggs. Now, other name, too, has this fairy -- Toad-flax, Eggs-and-Bacon, Flaxweed, Brideweed and Linaria Vulgaris; the last being her scientific name. She belongs to the Figwort family. Who are her cousins?
July 30th -- "O, O! Where did all these Lace Bugs come from?" That's what Grandma was wanting to know when she stepped out on the porch ten minutes ago. Now she knows -- you see this is "Lace Bug Day" and all afternoon we children have been collecting Lace Bugs. And we had just settled down on the end of her porch to have "Lace Bug Convention" and somehow some of the Lace Bugs got out of our pockets. What do Lace Bugs do? was the opening sentence of the convention. "Lace Bugs live on trees, and suck sap if you please." It was Manya who said so, and she knows, because she and I have watched them hours and hours. And at "Lace Bug Convention" we had the pleasure of announcing to the other eight there assembled that the family name of Lace Bug was Tingitidae.

Little weavers of the summer,
with sunbeam shuttle bright
And loom unseen by mortals,
you are busy day and night,
Weaving fairy threads as filmy
and soft as cloud swans, seen
In broad blue sky-land rivers,
above earth's fields of green.
-- Ray Lawrence

Milkweeds here and there and yonder along the way. Cousins of many another Milkweed are they. Have you found Monarch Butterflies about their leaves? Why? And what do you think of their fairy cradles? Would it not be fun to go ballooning as each Milkweed baby seed does?
I've been gathering Nettle. I heard Grandma say to-day, "What use can that child be finding for Nettle?" I'm finding a daily use for Nettle. I am raising Anglewing Butterflies, and those caterpillars refuse whatsoever food is placed before them except Nettles, which satisfy to the utmost. Satisfaction to the utmost is not an abiding condition with them just at present, though, and it is necessary that I go often for Nettles.
July 29th -- I've found several centipedes today around decayed stumps and pieces of old hollow logs. Centipedes haven't as many legs as millipedes, but what they have are larger. Centipedes belong to the class Chilopoda. Centipedes are neither worms, insects nor bugs, but they are Centipedes. Can't we call them always by their right name, Centipedes? Three times I've started to raise Centipedes, but something always happens to them before they become grown-up, and they disappear. And Uncle, who has much sympathy with my nature study, thinks that I had best wait until I am older to have a Centipede Farm.
When we held a reception for the Mint family these are the flowers the children invited -- went out into the fields and waste places to bid them come unto our flower reception: Peppermint, Catnip, Skullcap, Self-Heal, Heart-of-the-Earth, Yerba Buena, Garden Balm, Blue Curls, Oswego Tea, Pennyroyal, Wild Thyme, and Citronella, Dittany, Gill-Over-The-Ground, and Helmet Flowers. Some of these are one and the same, for some have more than one name. And they who were not found growing wild we brought from the garden.
Nell took her five cats for a walk to-day. And she came walking down our lane, and what did those pesky cats do but nibble at my Catnip plants that I've just set out in my wild flower garden of Mint Fairies. Grandpa laughed when he saw those Cats nipping at my Catnip, and said: "It does appears to me that some Cats like Catnip like some little Girls I know like potatoes." Then I felt better about sharing my Catnip with Nell's cats. When one gets ruffled up Grandpa has a way of saying things that smooth one's feathers all down again.

Next Chapter:
Along The Road, Part 6