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The Ephemeral Meadow

Thursday, October 27, 2011


 Arrgh. It's all going so fast, so fast...the greens are leaving, the browns are coming. We haven't really had a proper fall here in southern Ohio, just a whole bunch of rain and wind and trees dropping their still-green leaves, and other trees that should be riotously colorful just standing around buck naked.

So I'm looking through my photo archives for things to share and it all looks impossibly bright and colorful and fresh and late-summery.



 I could just smell my neighbor winding up to mow this incredible meadow of mistflower (Eupatorium coelestinum.) I like to call it "wild ageratum" because that's what it is. It's one of my favorite flowers for the way it can paint a meadow sky-lavender.

I'd drive by the meadow and think, "I have GOT to get in there with the camera before he mows it!" Because when things are at their most beautiful, that's when he gets the bug to mow. You may remember the monarch rescue two years ago, when we saved 67 caterpillars as the tractor was grinding through. To his credit, he helped us gather them--once we told him they were there!

Wonderful guy. Just a different ethos about beauty, that's all. Mowed close is his beautiful. 

Mistflower and butterflies is mine. Here's a pearl crescent.


a clouded sulfur


A leatherwing or soldier beetle, possibly Pennsylvania Leatherwing (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus) . You usually see these all over goldenrod.


 I kept stepping back, marveling at the beauty of the biggest stand of mistflower I'd ever seen. Knowing its days were numbered. Thankful it had been left this long.


Common buckeyes, a fall migrant around here, and one of my favorite butterflies. Those white wingbars flash in flight, and I can almost always identify this one on the wing before it alights. That's saying something for a butterfly.


And of course there were monarchs, but they preferred the more vividly colored tall ironweed.



On the leeward side, where he'd already mowed, mistflower still grows in the  uncut shadow of the hayrolls. There's a painting in there somewhere.

You know how I feel about hayrolls...


Not a week later, it was all gone. I guess you have to mow if you're going to make hayrolls.

 But he didn't even take hay this time. Just cleaned it up, made for an early frost.

9 comments:

Glorious glorious post - and clever you for getting there in time before The Restless Mower... Clearly they were all waiting for you, the mistflowers, the butterflies, the hay rolls... There was a painting in there- and you were the artist who captured it.

Shaista, I know of you. Deeply honored to find you here. Thank you for visiting. Click Shaista's profile link and go exploring, good readers--there is a wonderful spirit awaiting.

This was a truly beautiful post and just wrung my heart out for my southeastern autumns! Your photos were lovely, and I can understand your distress over the coming of the mower. I do know how he thinks. It is a field that needs cleaning, that provides hay. But, the little kingdoms he is cutting away! Not to mention the beauty for those who have the eye to see...

Lovely post. Thank you. I have Eupatorium greggii, Greg's Blue Mist Flower, in my small garden. Butterflies do love it.

To think a guy with such a great butterfly buffet would mow it all down is hard to compute.

We grow blue mistflower on the upper Texas Coast and Gregg's mistflower in the Texas Hill Country. It is sad to look out and see it mostly missing in our drought.

Feed your monarchs a LOT because they have to fly across 1000 miles of drought in Texas. Very few of them will make it back next year because they can't build up fat stores.

My yard is transforming as we speak. The golds in the woods next to the house were quite evident yesterday and with the rain it will take quite a few leaves with it. I think leaves should keep the color and stay on the trees until spring and oh, the grass needs to be green then maybe the cold wouldn't be so depressing. Course God didn't ask me when he was doing all this. Beautiful shots by the way.

So that's what it's called! I had a friend who gave me some from her yard and I couldn't for the life of me remember its name. (I won't forget "mistflower", though!) What an incredible sight, to see it overtaking an entire meadow!

Not long after I began working at our local nature center, one of the naturalists was leading an early autumn walk for toddlers. She had hidden stuffed animals in various spots along the trail, throughout the woods and the meadow, for the kids to find. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the very same morning that the meadow was scheduled for its biannual "haircut" to keep it from reverting back to forest! After the mower came through, all that remained of the stuffed fawn she had planted there were tufts of holofill and bits of spotted fabric! :P Of course, we were relieved it hadn't been a real fawn...and the maintenance crew were under strict orders to keep their eyes peeled for real critters (box turtles in particular.)

I suppose judicious mowing in some areas is necessary to keep a meadow a meadow year after year...but I'm glad you were able to enjoy it while it lasted (and to share it with us, in turn!)

Mowing is highly overrated. Thanks for letting us visit the meadow with you.

Posted by Amy Girten October 29, 2011 at 3:12 PM

But thanks to the hundreds of acres of hay mowed in The Wilds area we have a great place to watch our winter raptors,grown into brush,they are no shows.

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