Red admiral and painted lady butterflies vary in abundance from year to year.


I staggered outside to begin my early morning walk. I was full of wonder and the spirit of adventure. I was greeted with the most spectacular view I’d seen since the day before. It was such a nice day, I wished summer had 1,000 days like it. Each day is fragile and fleeting, but a few more days of its caliber and a fellow could be deluded into believing the world had achieved perfection. Such thinking is an ancient and honorable tradition.

  A sulphur butterfly landed on me. That brought good luck, I hoped. Butterflies and fireflies are people pleasers. Paul Peters of Ceylon heard the first cicada the third week of July. Late this year.

  The neighbor’s rooster crowed as no politician or pundit could. Bee balm or wild bergamot (Monarda), a native plant, bloomed. It’s attractive to bees and butterflies. It smells a bit like Earl Grey tea, but don’t hold that against it. Mints bloomed on square stems.

  Each day, I’m amazed by my perpetual incompetence as a human being. I narrated a tour on the Pelican Breeze cruising on Albert Lea Lake. The boat overflowed with fine folks. I pointed out catalpa, bur oak and basswood trees. A nice fellow asked what another name for a basswood was. I had a brain cramp. I knew the name, but couldn’t think of it. I was a loser in my own personal game of Jeopardy. Aaarrrggghhh. Nouns can be ephemeral. It’s the American linden. They grow from the Iowa border north to the Canadian border in Minnesota. Basswood leaves are easy to recognize. They are large and heart-shaped, 4 to 6 inches long. They are dark green above and light green below, and edged with coarse teeth. In June, when it comes into bloom, the trees are loaded with clusters of fragrant, creamy-white flowers that perfume an area and attract pollinators. It’s an excellent source of honey. I remembered everything but its name. We’re directed to be humble. How can we be anything else?


  “Why do I see so many crows and vultures in fields of mowed hay?” American crows and turkey vultures are there for the food. They eat animals that didn’t survive the mowing. The crows also gobble up voles, mice and large insects that had limited cover. I see American kestrels also feeding on those fields. I once had the company of a red-tailed hawk that followed me when I was on a tractor because it knew that iron horse chased up prey.

Al Batt is a syndicated columnist. For questions or comments about this article, contact Al at


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