We tied the record high today with a temperature of 73°. No excuses for not finishing garden tasks, unless you're a procrastinator like I am. We've got one more day of this on tap for tomorrow before reality comes back to smack us in the face.
For the most part, things are done here, with the exception of planting some tulips I found in the garage that I'd forgotten about, gathering the Morning Glory seeds (which haven't dried out yet), and putting down extra mulch which I really don't want to do until it gets cold for good.
Our neighbor Tom has a 'Red Delicious' apple tree that bore larger apples than ours did this year, and this afternoon I saw some of our other neighbors in his yard gathering some of those, as well as some of the pears he also has. I walked over to chat with them and Tom got off his mower and joined us.
While we were chatting, something flew by and caught my eye. When my eyes caught up with what it was that captured my attention, I just stood there with my mouth hanging open.
It couldn't be...
But it was. A Monarch. A female Monarch. Flying around like a summer day.
I watched until she settled in the apple tree. I kept saying over and over, "I can't believe it. I just can't believe it." Another late traveler? Or...could it be Little Miss Monarch?
There's no way of knowing, of course, but now I'm going to worry about this one. We know that some Monarchs hang around too long and don't make it south before the weather turns hostile. And this unseasonably warm weather we're having is playing games with all of us. It fosters the state of denial we're in about the coming winter. But we have warm homes to retreat to. Monarchs aren't so fortunate.
As the cooler evening air wafted in, I wondered if the apple tree was going to be the night stop for this Monarch as she attempts to make her way to Mexico. I will check on her in the morning. I'm not going to interfere with the natural course of things this time though. Win some, lose some, and I don't want to know.
There were other things to do before day's end, so I walked back over to our yard and continued trimming dead hosta foliage, then pulled out the brown zinnia plants and put them all in the compost bin. The bluebird house on the shagbark hickory tree needed cleaning out from the tree swallow's nest that was built there earlier in the summer.
When I opened it up, there was a group of yellow jackets that were in the process of taking over the abandoned nest and I quickly brushed them out (while wearing gloves). I got it all cleaned out and ready for the next residents, which I hope will be bluebirds next spring, and closed it back up.
Wait...what is that I see on the underneath side of the birdhouse?
Look at that! A Monarch chrysalis casing! The tree is a good 40 feet from any food source, which means the caterpillar had traveled from the nearest Asclepias, across two other mulched gardens, a grassy path, and a larger grassy area of the lawn, then up the tree to the bottom of the birdhouse.
It was certainly a very safe and protected location, but that it found the perfect spot there just left me shaking my head in amazement. One thing's for sure - there's no such thing as a boring day in nature.