I sip nectar with the tiniest.

I sat in my garden reading Penelope Lively, who when writing about garden fashions that come and go, kept using the word “rill.” I picked up my phone to look up that word and see what the British might mean by it, and quick as a wink a tiny fly, almost too tiny to see without reading glasses, lit on the screen, with its wings open for about one second, a flash of shimmering rainbows.

Then it fell off, on to my book. Was that the fly, merely a black gnat? I got him to crawl on to my finger and back on to the screen, where he was kind enough to display his bright wings again for a moment, and then took flight.

On my walk yesterday I saw just one insect in a sea of catsear blooms. And I worked hard to get a picture of a flower with him on it. Not like most years of my photography, when I tried to avoid bugs on blooms, and would be disappointed if my flower were spoiled by a spider or something I hadn’t noticed when I clicked. But most of those critters had come out blurry anyway. No, getting a sharp image of an insect is not easy with a little phone camera. But I have time, don’t I? And a lot of digital storage, too, in case I don’t get around to deleting all those blurry pictures.

I started looking for flowers with insects, and of course, there were bees! It was so warm by this time, they were flying fast and furious, and couldn’t decide which of many privet or blackberry blooms to drink from, like kids in a candy store. The best shot I got was of one flying away with her loot. And I found a near relation to catsear beetle closer to home, descending a wide staircase of rose petals.

Obviously, I also am a kid in my own candy store, and can’t choose just one or two pieces of ambrosia to gaze upon or aim my camera at or share with you. If the temperature were constantly mild when I sit out in that paradise, I think I would fill to bursting with the joy of the place. But usually I get too hot or too chilly or find a task to do, so I don’t get dangerously stretched.

In my front garden many insects are buzzing back and forth and not lighting on any flower. I think they are just hanging around, or more precisely, swooping around — coming back to check every few minutes, so they can be the first to drink at the ocean of teucrium flowers that are going to start opening any minute now. I’m not sure that walkway will be wide enough for human feet to walk without colliding with honeybee wings.

Many of the cistus, Jerusalem sage and helianthemum already need shearing! Alejandro my sometimes gardener was here yesterday and we moved one of the big pots that hold olive trees, and found two salamanders underneath! How they ended up in this droughty place I don’t understand, but I didn’t think about that at the time.

I grabbed the two of them, who looked like Mama and Baby, and put them to swim in the fountain for a minute while I ran into the house for my camera. Then I released them near a faucet with good luck wishes. Maybe I should have carried them to the creek? (Which reminds me, a rill in a British garden is a water feature.)


Back to the insect kingdom and their food… The word nectar carries a heady meaning. Drink of the gods – delicious. But the origin of the word is also pretty tasty if you like words: The first step back is to the Greek nektar (we’re talking about Greek gods, after all), “which is perhaps an ancient Indo-European poetic compound of nek- ‘death’ + -tar ‘overcoming,’ ‘cross over, pass through, overcome.'” No one used this word for the sweet liquid in flowers until about 1600.

Those links to the thought of overcoming of death could lead to an intellectual/writing exercise about how it’s all connected, but I’m not willing for that kind of workout today. I just want to join my fellow creatures in imbibing the sweets.


12 thoughts on “I sip nectar with the tiniest.

  1. Lovely pictures. I assume that teucrium is what is growing on either side of the path. It looks a lot like lavender and that’s what I thought it was.

    You take very good pictures of tiny insects. I think you must be very patient waiting for the right moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Truly it is the greatest gift. It is a fact that I have more disposable time than some people, but lately it seems to be a necessary state of mind that I have entered into…

      Some people would probably call it a lazy state of mind, and certainly there are long lists of jobs needing done around here. But for most of the work, I am my only taskmaster, so I prioritize as I do.


  2. A kid in a candy store is a wonderful comparison! That prods me to think of my birding experience: I’d say it’s like a kid on an Easter egg hunt. I know there are colourful eggs for me to hunt, but they are all hidden and I’ll have to search for them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I too enjoy the etymology of words and have only recently become interested in photographing insects – the tiniest of moths resting in my home become fascinating subjects for my phone camera. This has, as always, been a lovely read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even in one of my pictures that is a bit blurry I can usually see the insect more clearly than with my naked eye, and without it rushing off somewhere 🙂 so my phone’s camera is serving as a sort of magnifying glass, too.


  4. Enjoyed the visit very much. I managed to keep from being “dangerously stretched,” but I can see how an actual visit might lead to symptoms not unlike those of the Florence flu, which I read about years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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