Insect friends on the soft breeze.

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I am sitting in the garden, in the corner where the unbelievable salvias and the olive trees have grown up to make a sort of alcove. The three salvias are each six to nine feet in diameter and four feet high; they amazed me by taking a big leap in July and August of their first year. The umbrella is shielding me from the sun, and I am enjoying the insects that make the air alive with their darting and swooping from one flower to another above and all around me.

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The only reason I thought to move out here with my bowl of plums is that my house is so cold. I brought the laptop so I could continue reading Fr. Stephen’s article while I ate, but the fruit drew all of my attention to my mouth, and to the juicy plumminess too intense to consume mindlessly while reading. Now I remember why I planted two Elephant Heart Plum trees last fall — which, by the way, didn’t produce any fruit from their pretty green and white blossoms this season. Pearl brought me some of her plums yesterday; a year ago the mature trees at her new house had been the inspiration for my decision to grow some of my own.

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gl9 P1050452 wasp on salvia 9-4-16
Hoverflies are pollinators, too.


If I could just sit out here in the soft air, I would most certainly eat less; shivering in the house makes me distracted and uneasy without knowing why, and I unconsciously start stoking the furnace of my body with whatever fuel I can find in the cupboards.

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And being in the garden makes me want to share the experience in words, so I looked to see if I have a good summer poem from a previous year. I’m sure it must be here somewhere, if I only had the patience. While looking I found a verse that is new to me, from Walter de la Mare, about one of the winged creatures flitting about.

After pasting it in (and thereby shaping this article into another Pollinator post) I thought perhaps I shouldn’t be so hasty, and I began to look online for a different poem, maybe about a dragonfly or a butterfly ? which, after all are more to my liking. I also hunted around for a clue to the meaning of “specks of sale” in the poem. Does anyone know? I wonder if sale is a word for salt? [Duh. It was a typo, as commenter shoreacres pointed out below. But from now on I think I will always think of it as a synonym 🙂 ]

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But before any more pages had time to load – I must be too far from the house for the wifi – a common housefly dropped in on me, on my arm, on my keyboard, my shoulder, and he would not be shooed away for anything. I think he sensed what was going on, and wanted me to tell his story, and not another’s. Maybe as soon as I hit “Publish” he will go back to playing.



How large unto the tiny fly
Must little things appear!-
A rosebud like a feather bed,
Its prickle like a spear;

A dewdrop like a looking-glass,
A hair like golden wire;
The smallest grain of mustard-seed
As fierce as coals of fire;

A loaf of bread, a lofty hill;
A wasp, a cruel leopard;
And specks of salt as bright to see
As lambkins to a shepherd.

-Walter de la Mare

gl9 P1050431 fly on yarrow crp
some kind of fly on the yarrow

9 thoughts on “Insect friends on the soft breeze.

  1. Your garden is lovely. So are your thoughts. I love when you are in your garden. It was just incredibly beautiful here today too. I have had to stay outside too. It is cooler outside than in the house.

    I love that you have plums to eat.

    I enjoyed it all today. Your flowers are just lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I looked for other versions of the poem, and discovered that your “sale” is a typo. In the original, the word is salt. So, your hunch was right, in a funny sort of way — “sale” was just another word for salt.

    I don’t mean to be impertinent or rude, but I was wondering. Why not simply adjust the temperature in your house, so it’s not so cold? Perhaps there’s someone else whose needs must be accomodated. While my mother still was living, every journey in the car was a “turn it up, turn it down” sort of experience. She always was cold, while I always was hot. If only we both could have been comfortable at the same time.


    1. Ah, Linda, you are so right about the typo. I guess I didn’t think of it because I had looked at more than one version online, and caught a different typo on another site… I should have thought of that possibility and done more homework. Thank you for doing my work for me.

      About the house temperature – In the spring and fall we often have this dilemma, of the house being cold when we wake up — this morning was 48, but even in the summer it’s rarely warmer than 55 — but then as the day progresses it warms up by itself. Right now it’s 72. It seems a waste to use the furnace, which has to warm up the entire two-story house, when we will be opening the windows wide in a couple of hours to bring in the warmer air from outdoors. The downstairs doesn’t often get as warm as outside — only in an extreme heat wave it threatens to, but by managing the light and air coming in through windows and shades morning and evening we can keep it 20 or 30 degrees cooler in the house than outdoors – the difference between 70 and 90, or 80 and 105.

      When I used to visit my grandmother in Berkeley CA in the summertime, it didn’t bother her to run the furnace every morning. Hers burned coal. But it was probably even colder in the mornings there. She opened the windows for much of the day and I was always amazed that she didn’t have screens. There were no flies! We don’t need AC here, and I appreciate that so much, and being able to have the windows open at night on through the day is such a natural delight, I am loath to make the decision to start shutting them. That will come first, and then in October we’ll have to start using the furnace and the wood stove.

      I don’t mind your question at all!


      1. Oh, silly me. I was assuming that you were air conditioning! The thought that there are people in the world who live with temperatures in the upper 40s and 50s right now is just beyond me. I was looking at our temperatures for the coming week, and was delighted to see our highs will only be in the low 90s! Latitude and altitude do make a difference — how geography-bound we can be!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I planted some portulaca in the Spring. My late father-in-law, who had a green thumb, called them Moss Roses. This flower reminds me of him and his gentle nature.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Haha – being from the over-balmy South, I wondered why in the world your house was COLD, and why that was a problem, and why … if it was cold to you … you didn’t just turn the air conditioning down. 🙂 We are still quite warm here and running our AC.

    I went hunting about your “specks of sale” conundrum, and see that you’ve found your answer. But I had fun looking. Apparently Dickens used “specks of sale” and “specks of sail” to describe sails at sea, and the whiteness of a man’s clothing. You learn something new every day!

    Liked by 1 person

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