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Along The Road, Part 5


Canada Goldenrod
Solidago canadensis
(Brother Alfred Brousseau)

Like liquid gold the wheat field lies,
A marvel of yellow and russet and green,
That ripples and runs, and floats and flies
With subtle shadows flies a change, and a sheen.
-- And the colors, they run to the western sun
Through the sheaves of the ripening wheat.

How glad it makes our hearts as we travel the open road to see the fields of wheat along the way -- and listen to the music of the wheat. We talked of wheat in our Cathedral service this last Lord's day -- and one of our texts was (of course this way only one -- we have more, one for each day in the week, to meditate upon.)

Each thing upward tends,
by necessity decreed,
And a world's support depends
upon the shooting of seed.

O the fluttering and the pattering
of those green things growing.
How they talk each to each,
when none of us are knowing.

This is another text we had in the service last Lord's day, also:

The child, the seed, the grain of corn,
the acorn on the hill,
Each for some separate end
is born in season fit, and still --
Each must in strength arise
to work the Almighty will.

When we saw Blue Jay and again when we saw Steller's Jay we thought of what Shakespeare had said:

What, is the jay more precious than the lark
Because his feathers are more beautiful?
-- Shakespeare

It is very interesting -- the keeping of diaries for one's friends -- the writing in on different days and weeks of their ways -- and especially is it interesting where one has known them from babyhood. I have kept diaries for my pet Squirrels, Chipmunks, Skunks, Bats, Turtles, Deer, Porcupine, Raccoon, Toads, Horned Lizards, Wood Mice, and for the many pet Birds. All these diaries are recorded in three other Fairyland books, together with the portraits of the afore-mentioned fairies.
And of the grasshopper musician, he of the fields and waysides, it is written:

Grasshopper, your fairy song
And my poem alike belong
To the deep and silent earth,
From which all poetry has birth;
All we say and all we sing
Is but the murmuring of that drowsy heart of hers
When from her deep dream she stirs;
If we sorrow, or rejoice,
You and I are but her voice.

When the foxfire burns beside the river,
The crickets sing under tawny leaves,
And grasshopper fiddles solemnly quiver,
While the harvesters gather the sheaves.
-- Gene Stratton Porter

August 10th -- Glory, glory! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! For five whole months I've been looking for Goldfinch home. In June when Bluebirds were raising their second family, and in July when Robins were making a third home, I sought and found not Goldfinches home. Then I began to pray mornings as well as nights -- and if I didn't find the home today. I was going along the hillside among the Vine Maples when ahead of me i saw a dear cradle with a bit of olive brown on it. Mrs. Goldfinch was at home. When I came nearer I saw near by a darling golden fairy wearing a black cap on his head, and black and white upon his wing. While keeping very quiet I heard him softly saying, "bay-bee, bay-bee." O, I am so happy. Later -- I'm just sure those Goldfinch fairies have learned the "multiplication tables" rapidly for the number of times they want breakfast, dinner, and supper to be served is many times that of ordinary children. (And we have big appetites, too.) One thing they have not learned is "division," for every time anything is brought to the nest each little Goldfinch thinks it is truly his turn -- and that is all for him.

The thistles show beyond the brook
Dust on their down and bloom,
And out of many a weed-grown nook
The aster flowers look
With eyes of tender gloom.
-- Howells

August 25 -- We were watching the California Thrashers this afternoon clearing away the leaves with his long bill. While watching him scratching we heard another in a bush nearby: "Kick it now," "Kick it now," he seemed to be saying. These brown birds with long tails are cousins of Mocking Birds and Wrens.
August 27th -- On an everlasting flower by the roadside I found a wonderful fairy cradle, near an inch long, of the pretty scales of the Everlasting flower held together by a little web. And who was the maker of this dainty cradle? -- a caterpillar who would be, when he grew up, a Hunter's Butterfly.

In the summer of the summer,
when the hazy air is sweet
With the breath of crimson
and the days a-shine with heat,
When the sky is blue and burning
and the clouds a downy mass
When the breeze is idly dawdling,
there is music in the grass --
Just a thistly, whistly sound,
In the tangles near the ground;
Just a lisping, whisp'ring tune,
like a bumblebee's bassoon
In a far-away fantasia
is the music in the grass.

Spinus tristis
(Mark Cassino)
Ethereal Navigator

How deepening bright,
like mounting flame, doth burn
The golden-rod upon a thousand hills.
This is the Autumn's flower,
and to my soul
A token fresh of beauty and of life,
And life's supreme delight.

August 15th -- 'Tis the time of Golden-rod, and the way is bordered with plumes of gold bringing joy to the eyes of those who pass by. We children go unto them and watch the insects about them and upon them. We have this motto in our Botany study, "Know the flowers -- and know their insect visitors." So every day new things we learn and sweet the joy we find in knowing the every-day things around us.
August 16th -- We found thirteen of those slender, sleepy little Stilt Bugs in the oak thicket today. Their family name is Berytidae.
August 17th -- Someone said the Spiders and Scorpions were distant relatives, so when I was crowded for room in the hospital nursery I placed three Scorpions in with the Spiders; but the Scorpions ate the Spiders up. I'm learning much about the food of certain Wayside folks in the hospital when one eateth up another, and another eateth up another. This world is a bit puzzling at times, I truly think.
August -- Will-Herb whose other name is "Fireweed," and who also blooms in Asia and in Europe we now daily see. Where last year the forest fire burned over the hillside now the Great Willow-herb grows and hides a part of the ruin. It is truly a comforting fairy -- this cousin of Primrose and Star-flower. Yesterday we learned this verse about it:

Strange flower, thy purple making haste
To glorify each blackened waste
Of fire-swept land
Is with a blessed meaning fraught
And we, when pain hath fully wrought,
Shall understand.

August 20th -- David and Jonathan, the two Mourning Doves, accompanied me along the road today. David perched upon my left shoulder, and Jonathan upon the right. Jonathan ate part of an acorn and David ate the rest. Then each did eat a millipede. And as we went on we saw thirty-one other Mourning Doves perched on the telephone wires. As evening came near we came again home.

There comes a perfume from the sunset land,
And from the sunset vapor comes a voice;
Someone in evening's gateway seems to stand
And o'er a flood of glory shout, "Rejoice!"
-- Thompson


Note that may be in the nature note book almost any day in the year -- saw crows today.

Did you know that the Crow is a cousin of Magpie, Steller's Jay, Clarke's Nutcracker, and our American Raven?
Did you know that crows also have their place in poetry? We children learned this verse about them:

When the golden rod, uplifted
As a wayside benediction,
Cheers the traveler on his journey
Through the sultry hours of August,
Deep within the forest reaches,
In the shadow of the ledges,
Gather crows in friendly concourse.
All their notes are low and drowsy,
Muffled croaks and guttural cawings
All their motions speak contentment,
Tell of coolness, well-fed comfort.


August 20th -- "Some folks have names that suit them, and some folks have names which really do not belong to them," says little James. I'm sure that Road Runner belongs in the first-mentioned class. The second time I saw Road Runner I hoped to have a race with him down the road, but the catching up with him was an impossibility.
"Hermes" is the name we children have given a certain Road Runner with whom we have made friends. It was upon a May Day that we met and became friends. We found the way to this Road Runner's heart (as we found the way to many a nestlings's heart) through his stomach. He, with two brothers and a little sister, were in a cradle in a clump of cactus -- a cradle made of sticks and lined with grass and feathers. Eagerly we watched to see what Mother and Father Road Runner fed their babies. In between the feedings the youngsters made odd sounds, and little James joined them by clicking together two pieces of wood -- the sounds were much alike.
Many days have we watched and a number of things have we learned about Road Runners -- "Hermes" in particular. Before he left the nest we learned of his fondness for grasshoppers and caterpillars. One day we gave him a centipede and he liked it. Since leaving the nest he has helped to satisfy that appetite of his with three of our pet horned toads, two pet field mice, and a black cricket, which we had raised. We also have watched him take snails, grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, and the other day we saw him with a garter snake. "Hermes" is a cousin of the Cuckoos, being a member of the Cuculidae family. His scientific name is Geococcyx Californianus.

Road Runner

August 11th -- We often meet them -- those Jamestown Weeds. Did you know that their cousins are Nightshade and Tobacco, Petunia, Tomato and Potato? Jamestown Weed has other names also -- Thorn Apple, Jimson Wed and Devil's Trumpet. Scientists call it Datura Stramonium. Not always has Jimson Weed dwelt in our land, for he came from Asia. In evening hours we children have watched Sphinx Moths came unto these flowers.
August 15th -- Today Rameses II, our pet horned toad (who really is not a toad at all, but who is a genuine lizard) ate for dinner David, our cricket musician, whose development we children have eagerly watched since that day we first found him when he was only a baby cricket with musical possibilities.
August 17th -- I found today by the wayside on the blossoms of the ox-eye daisy five fairies, five yellowish-green fairies, each with a blackish band across his abdomen. And while yet I waited near the flowers, I saw these five insects who came to the Ox-eye Daisy, and yet nine others before I went away. And at last, after long searching, I found their name and thought it suited them well -- these "Ambush Bugs" of the family Phymatidae.
August 21 -- Troubles, troubles, and in our own Flower Room, whose synonym is "Heaven on Earth"; but now Salome has ruined his reputation. Salome, the collared lizard, whom Uncle Henry sent to me from California, the other day, was a thing of beauty in the flower room, but alas, not a joy forever. First she ate little bits of Clover blossoms; then bigger bits of the Crickets; thirdly, all the bits of Hadrian (the pet Swift who is nearly as large as she is); fourthly, every bit of Moses (the baby Grass Snake); fifthly, and last of all, all of Aristotle (the pet Horned Toad). And then, as though she thought "Our Flower Room" an ideal place for her children and her children's children, she deposited sixteen eggs therein. The prospect of the possibility of their being seventeen Salomes in our beloved "Heaven on Earth" room was overwhelming; and I was sorely puzzled until Uncle's letter came with its suggestion for "The House of Salome." O, if that letter had only arrived with Salome, as it was meant that it should. Four of the Camp Children are going to help me -- together we shall build of bits of board and screen, a goodly sized house, with much sand for its floor.
August 25 -- "The House of Salome" is finished and in it we have placed Salome and her sixteen eggs.
P. S. -- We've also discovered that Salome's cannibalistic appetite is pleased with grasshoppers. Jimmy says, "Hurrah!" So do I, and all the rest of us. That makes a twenty-seventh excuse for the existence of our "Grasshoppery" -- the existence of said "Grasshoppery" being much opposed by the grown ups.

The clouds are at play
in the azure space,
And their shadows at play
on the bright green vale,
And here they stretch
to the frolic chase;
And there they roll
on the easy gale.
There's a dance of leaves
in that aspen bower,
There's a titter of winds
in that beechen tree,
There's a smile on the fruit
and a smile on the flower,
And a laugh from the brook
that runs to the sea.
-- Bryant

[Did you know you can be] finding joy in knowing whole families of flowers? We children often hold receptions for flower families -- one family at a time -- and bring together from field and wayside all the members of that family -- all the cousins, big and little, short and tall, and afterwards we give them all to a little old lady who loves them, and who loves us -- and to others, too, who would like to, but who cannot come to our fields and woods -- so we carry our fields and woods to them in our flower receptions.

God spoke! and from the arid scene
Sprang rich and verdant bowers,
Till all the earth was soft and green, --
he smiled; and there were flowers.
-- Fenollosa

Ethereal Navigator

August 29th -- 'Tis many and many a wayside fairy that's cousin to another wayside fairy; and many a wayside fairy is a traveler from another land. The flower reception at which the attendance is greater than at all others is the reception which we hold for the Dandelion family, otherwise known as Compositae family. These are they are who invited unto the reception and many of them came from the wayside: Dandelion, Sunflower, Daisy, Aster, Thistle, Tansy, Black-eyed Susan, Dog-fennel, Burdock, Everlasting, Joe Pye Weed, Boneset, Fleabone, Yarrow, Compass-plant, Rosinplant Golden Coreopsis, Bur-marigold, Sneeze-weed, stick-tight, Golden Ragwart and Golden-rod. Did you know that these are all cousins? They are like an army marching on down through the years. Well equipped are the members of Dandelion family for this onward march, for each flower is made up of many little flowers grouped together, making a flowerhead. And to these flower heads come many insects who by their carrying pollen from flower to flower, help the plants in sending their plant children into the world. Flowers are beautiful, not just for our sakes, but for the sake of the little seed children that are to be. Plants advertise with their beautiful flowers inviting the insect visitors who bring from other flowers the pollen necessary that their lives may go on in the lives of their children. Isn't this a wonderful Fairyland?

Next Chapter:
Along The Road, Part 7