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Along The Road, Part 6


ALONG THE ROAD


Sunflower
(Ann Telling)
Ethereal Navigator

Ox-Eye Daisy
Rudbeckia hirta
(Blythe Park School Living Classroom)


September 5th -- Early this morning I was out seeking for Wooly Bear caterpillars -- those fuzzy black and orange ones who become, when they grow up, Isia Isabella Moths. I found the seven-hundred and fifty-first one that I have found this year. Early morning is an especially good time to look for them, by the road, while the dew is yet upon the grass. Have you watched the Wooly Bear caterpillars change their skins? They are good ones to commence with. Then when you have seen them change their skins you will want to see other caterpillars do the same. Last year I raised fourteen-hundred and thirty-nine Isia Isabella Moths from Wooly Bear Caterpillars like these. My, their appetites were enormous at times; and much bracken fern did they eat.
September 12th -- Gypsy Combs by the roadside. Armored well is this fairy Teazel. And man has found a use for Teazel's armor in raising nap on woolen cloth. Have you watched a Bumblebee come unto a Gypsy Comb fairy?
September -- Have you ever stopped to think what kind of a place this world would be if our trees were all taken away? Sometimes it is well for us to pause and think a few moments what things would be like without some of our daily blessings. I count trees among God's best gifts to us. To-day has been one of our pledge days -- that is when we children assemble together and give to the trees our pledge of friendship. How many tree fairies do you know along the way? This afternoon we children learned this verse about the trees:

In the Garden of Eden, planted by God,
There were goodly trees in the springing sod,
Trees of beauty and height and grace,
To stand in splendor before his face.
Apple and hickory, ash and pear,
Oak and beech and the tulip rare,
The trembling aspen, the noble pine,
The sweeping elm by the river line;
Trees for the birds to build in and sing.
And the lilac tree for a joy in spring;
Trees to turn at the frosty call
And carpet the ground for their Lord's footfall.
Trees for fruitage and fire and shade,
Trees for the cunning builder's trade,
Wood for the bow, the spear and the flail.
The keel and the mast of the daring sail;
He made them of every grain and girth,
For the use of man in the Garden of Earth,
Then lest the soul should not lift her eyes
From the gift to the Giver of Paradise,
On the crown of a hill for all to see,
God planted a scarlet maple tree.
-- Bliss Carmen



Above the arching jimson weeds flare twos
And twos of sallow, yellow butterflies.
Like blooms of lorn primroses blowing loose
When autumn winds arise.
-- James Whitcomb Riley

September 18th -- Many and many are the Shepherd's Purses along the wayside now. These fairies with their dainty, heart-shaped seed pods, came over from Europe. Shepherd's Purses are cousins of Mustard, Radish, Spring Beauty, Wall Flower -- Alyssum and Candy-tuft.
To-day I sat down on an old gray stone covered with lichens -- and I kept very quiet because I wanted to watch the Earth-folks about. And when one keeps quiet one sees so much more. And the longer I kept still the more I saw -- Mice folk and Insect folk. But the rarest of all that I saw this afternoon was Sir Badger. I had been very quiet for more than an hour when I heard a slight noise -- and there was only a little way from me was his knightship Sir Badger a-laying upon the burrow of Gopher. Now, the Badger fairies are very shy folk, so I was very glad to see this one. I thought it would be interesting to get a closer view of his striped head, so I crept along so carefully. I think a Badger's sense of hearing must be very keen, for he quickly flattened himself out among the grasses -- and if I had not known he was there I would have had a bit of difficulty in locating him. His beautiful silky gray hair blended in with the dry grasses about. Now, Sir Badger belongs to the Mustelidae family -- and is therefore a distant relative of Otter, Skunk, Mink, and Weasel. He likes to eat gophers, ground squirrels, grasshoppers, field mice, small snakes, and some other things -- and his scientific name is Taxidea taxus.
When I went along the road to-day I was thinking about the classification of things -- and it is so interesting, the way in which individual fairies are grouped -- and where they belong -- in a scientific way. Now, here is fuzzy black and brown Caterpillar, "Wooly Bear", who some day, when he grows up, will be an Isia Isabella, scientifically classified as follows: His specific name is Isabella. He belongs to the genus Isia. The genus Isia is one of the genera which make up the family of Arctiidae. The Arctiidae are a part of the sub-order of Heterocera (the Moths), who are one of two great sub-divisions of the order Lepidoptera -- which belongs to the great class Insecta, the highest class in the sub-kingdom of the Anthropoda. So we have our "Woolly Bear" Caterpillar, who is going to be an Isa Isabella Tiger Moth when he grows up, classified as follows:

Sub-kingdom -- Arthropoda.
Class -- Insecta.
Order -- Lepidoptera.
Sub-Order -- Heterocera.
Family -- Arctiidae.
Genus -- Isia.
Species -- Isabella.

September 23rd -- Still the Dodder blooms by the wayside. In this Fairyland around us even as in the Fairyland of the story books, there are knights and bad fairies. Dodder belongs to the latter class. Some people call him Love Vine, but I trust that you who read the Fairyland Around Us will never again call Dodder "Love Vine." His other name of Strangleweed is more appropriate. Some say they call this plant, with its yellow threads winding about other plants, the Love Vine because of its clinging habits. But, alas, it clings by the means of suckers which steal life from those plants around which it winds. In the Court of Justice of Fairyland it stands condemned -- it has no leaves; it has no green coloring matter; Dodder, the backslider of the Morning Glory family, is a thief; and rightly bears the name of Strangleweed.
On the way home from school we had an argument about who belonged to the Reptile class of the animal kingdom -- and our argument became heated. Jane and I were sure that Lizards, Snakes, Tortoises, and Turtles belonged. Sammie said he knew Turtles were not reptiles and that Horned Toads were not either. When we arrived home we talked the mater over with Uncle and found out Jane and I were right; but we all forgot about Crocodiles who also belong to the Reptile class. (Anyway they are not every-day fairies for which we children are all glad.) Horned Toads belong to the Reptile class because you know they are really truly lizards.
September 25th -- More Hunter's Butterflies are about today than I have seen on any previous day of this year. Have you noticed how nearly like Thistle Butterflies these Hunter Butterflies are? Notice when they are at rest with their wings folded over their backs that on the lower wing Hunter's Butterfly has only two peacock eye-spots, while Thistle Butterfly has several and smaller ones. They are cousins.
September 29th -- Still the Yarrow fairies bloom. It was in June that we held a reception for them and their cousins, Sunflower, Dandelion, and Thistle. And in the early spring we children liked to find the lacy leaves. Now still they bloom -- these Yarrow Fairies, named for Achilles, whom, it is said, was taught their value by Chiron, the centaur, that he might use them as an ointment in the siege of Troy.

I like the plants that you call weeds,
Sedge, hardhack, mullein, yarrow,
Which knit their leaves and sift their seeds
Where any grassy wheel-track leads
Through country by-ways narrow.
-- Lucy Larcom



And now from yonder beech-trunk, sheer and sterile
The rat-tat-tat of the woodpecker's bill;
The sharp, staccato barking of a squirrel,
A dropping nut, and all again is still.
-- Irvine

October -- A tiny yellow star here and a tiny yellow star there. 'Tis the Yellow Star-grass fairies still blooming by the way. It was May when first we found them, and later in June watched tiny bees -- Halictus -- come unto the yellow star-like blossoms. This fairy belongs to the Amaryllis family.
O, those dear Earth-star fairies -- they were rolling about yesterday when the sun was shining; but last night it rained -- and to-day they were resting. Uncle told me that they are found all over the world, and that when they are rolling about they scatter their Baby Spores, who will be, when they grow up, Earth Stars -- "Water-measuring Earth-stars" Uncle calls them. Their scientific name is Geaster Hygrometricus.
October 9th -- Still the Moth Mullein blooms beside the way. Early in June we found the first blossoms and watched Bee fairies come unto them. We children think that it has been wrongly named Moth Mullein, for we have never see a moth about these dainty fairy flowers. They are members of the Figwort family. Who are their cousins? Don't you like to see their pretty, round, brown seed vessels beside the road in winter? We children like to see them and the birds which come unto them.
I walked down the road a ways this afternoon and perched on the old rail fence. The reason I perched upon the fence was because I wanted to think, and while I was thinking I saw several Lizards. Now, a Lizard fairy is a very interesting creature -- from egghood up. And after one has raised some lizards from eggs one has a sort of brotherly feeling towards all Lizards. They so like fence corners, and so do I. Now, there are lots of Lizards, but they are not all alike -- there are Keeled Lizard (Gerrhonotus), Spiny Swift (Sceloporus undulatus), Common Spotted Lizard (Holbrookia maculata), "Horned Toad" (Phrynosoma), Skinks (Scincidae), Race Runner (Cumdophorus sexlineatus), and Glass "snake" (Ophisaurus ventralis). And all Lizards do not hatch from eggs -- for some are born alive. I learned this in Lizard nursery -- where baby Lizards to the number of thirty-three hatched from the eggs last year. But some Mother Lizards whom I brought in to lay eggs laid not eggs -- and yet some mornings there were Baby Lizards with these Mother Lizards -- and last year in the Lizard nursery seventeen baby Lizards were born alive -- making a total of forty young Lizards (counting the thirty-three hatched from eggs). We named these forty from Assyrian, Egyptian, Chaldean, and Babylonian rulers -- and seven were also given a second name from the Bible.


Black-Billed Magpie
(Artist)

Winter time is such a good time to study many flowerless plants. 'Tis in the winter we children like to collect the Moss Fairies. We have many Moss Fairies dwelling in our Fern garden. Then during these months, when many flowering plants are sleeping, it is such a joy to find the Lichen fairies along the way. And even the humblest fairies by the road are full of interest. Now, a Lichen Fairy is really two different fairy plants living together. In it is just this way: A white Fungus Fairy who is made up of a felt work of minute threads, much like those in Moulds and Toadstools -- and Algae Fairies (tiny plants often of a greenish color) dwell together with mutual benefit to one another. Sir Algae are entangled in the meshes of Fungus fairy. Now, Sir Fungus in this way gives support and moisture to Sir Algae -- and Sir Algae, with the help of their own green coloring matter and sunshine, give food to the Fungus fairies. But we children have learned that, though the Algae Fairies can live without the Fungus, the Fungus cannot live without the Algae, as they cannot get food from the stone nor having chlorophyll (which makes the green coloring matter in the Algae and other plants) they are unable to take food from the air by the aid of sunshine. Isn't this truly a wonderful Fairyland? Look for Lichen fairies on the rocks along the way.
Dec. 24th -- Today we decorated the Christmas tree for the birds -- the little birds who glory in the snowstorm and mind not at all the rain. We began with the fir tree by the gate -- then along the road and three in the woods. With pieces of suet, and apple, and baked potatoes, we decorated their Christmas trees. Then we sat down on a log and waited -- waited and watched to see who would come first to our Christmas tree -- and he who came first was a glad Chick-a-dee.
Chick-a-dees were among my first friends. It was in the winter that I learned to know them -- in the winter when the snow was on the ground. I was three, then, and had my daily lunch counter for the birds on the window sill. Being only three was somewhat trying when one was not allowed to go out in the snow to play with the Chick-a-dees. The next best thing was to divide one's meal with them on the window sill.
Jan. 3rd -- A Snowflake and a Junco -- more Snowflakes and more gray Snow birds. Yesterday it was cloudy and a stray Sunbeam came and gave a new glory to the day, and made all We Children more glad. Today it is snowing and Junco's coming is to our hearts like the Sunbeam of yesterday. He is here -- he is there. He seems a part of the snowstorm. We know what he likes -- and we give what he likes. Seeds of weeds we gathered for him -- in the late summer and early fall days -- along highways and by-ways we sought and found -- and gathered pockets full of seeds and weeds.


I feel the year's slow-beating heart
The sky's chill prophesy I know;
And welcome the consummate art
Which weaves for earth this mantle of snow.

Winter days now are here -- a few snowflakes came yesterday. I've been tending to Bird lunch counters to-day. And these birds I saw along the way -- Robin, Bluebird, Varied Thrush, Chick-a-dee, Junco, Grosbeak, and Rosy Finch.
On winter days, bleak winter days -- days that seem a bit colorless -- I do so like to climb upon the old gray pasture fence and think -- sometimes I think of colors. To-day I was thinking of some of the fairies who wear red -- Cardinal Bird and Cardinal Flower, Scarlet Tanager, Clover Blossoms, Red-winged Blackbird, Columbine, and Flame Lily, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Scarlet Painted Cup, Oswego Tea, Scarlet Pimpernal, Coral Honey-suckle, and darling little Crossbill. Others, too, wear the color red.
January 11th -- I've been seeking for fairy cradles today. I found five Polyphemus ones on Hazel bushes with old dried leaves about them. And by and by the spring will come and if all goes well and has gone well beautiful Polyphemus Moth fairies will come from these cradles. The winter is the time to see for many fairy cradles. I found a gray chrysalis of a Butterfly on the old rail fence.
Raindrops wearing snowflake dresses -- gently drifting down -- Mother Nature's putting on a dress of wondrous whiteness. We children took to-day pieces of dark woolen cloth and held them up to catch the Raindrops wearing snowflake dresses. Under a glass that makes little things look big we saw these snowflake dresses -- and they were beautiful. We learned versus this afternoon about the snow. One was by Lowell -- and one was by Whittier. When I was a little girl, must littler than I am now, I wanted to wear a snowflake dress too. So I started down the garden path -- and out the garden gate -- a long, long ways, my dear Mamma thought, but it really was only about two blocks about, I guess. The snowflakes came down, down on my warm coat -- and made me a snowflake dress right over it. Then somehow I got tired, and I felt sleepy. Pretty soon I woke up and my new snowflake dress was changing to raindrops. Three ones trickled over my nose, and woke me up. Being tired, I went into church -- and it was under a seat I woke up. Father O'Brien took me home to my darling Mamma, and said he thought one snowflake dress a day was enough. I thought so, too. Mother and Father were awfully afraid I was going to have croup, but I didn't -- I fed the Snowbirds, the Chick-a-dees (the ones who tell their names so plainly). And I took a mashed potato and gave it to Varied Thrush at the window-sill. My! that was a wonderful day -- the day I first had a snowflake dress.


Snow Bunting
Plectrophenax nivalis
(Artist)
Black-Capped-Chickadee's Song
Black-Capped Chickadee
(Mark Cassino)

Raccoon
(Artist)

Beaver
(Artist)

Muskrat
(Sir R. B. Forbes)

Bouncing Bet
(Keith Karoly)

Turtlehead
Chelone glabra
(Michael Thompson)

Black Phoebe
(Peter LaTourrette)


Next Chapter:
Raindrop's Journey