The Last Days of Summer

      I have been making an effort to really enjoy these last days of summer. The Farmers Almanac is predicting another ferocious winter, perhaps even worse than last year. I always get a little sad to see my flowers all fading and going to seed. I spend my evenings gathering seeds and deciding which ones I will grow again next year. Some of the garden is dwindling down, thank goodness and I don't have to spend all my days in the kitchen canning. The kale and Swiss chard are so lush and huge. The rabbits and chickens are enjoying the extra. I have some late Flat Dutch cabbage that is ready to pick. I'm waiting for the signs to be right, to make some sauerkraut, then I will can it up for the winter.
       A couple of nights ago, I decided to stay out on the swing until it was dark. I sat there swinging, listening to the crickets and night bugs start their chorus. The bats were dropping out of the bat house one by one. They do that so quickly and quietly, if you blink you will miss it. Some of them dip down to the pond for a drink before they start their fluttering flight in the sky above me. The barn swallows were twittering and chattering as they made they way in for the night. I could hear the chickens going to bed, squabbling as usual as they pick their spot on the perch. Every once in a while you hear a thud as someone gets kicked off and has to pick another place. A frog was croaking just a few feet away, buried in the Black-eyed Susans. Just one lone frog instead of the early summer band. The Kiss  Me Over the Garden Gate was nodding in the evening breeze. It was getting darker and darker. I could count three lightening bugs flying around the pond. Suddenly, something flew by me. I had to strain my eyes in the dark to see what it was. I knew it was too late for a hummingbird but that's what it looked like. I kept watching for it and finally, over by the bench, I could see it. It was dipping and hovering over the cleome, going from blossom to blossom. I knew it couldn't be a hummer and then it dawned on me. I was seeing a Sphinx Moth. All of a sudden, I was taken back to a little girl sitting out with her grandpa on the Mojave Desert in the cool evenings. He and I would sit out and wait for the Sphinx Moths to come out and get their evening drink of nectar from the flowers. I remember Grandpa Keddy would call them his "ladies of the evening". We would sit there together until it would get too dark to see. Now here I sat, watching this beautiful moth going from flower to flower. She was huge, looking bigger than a hummingbird. I watched her until it got so dark I couldn't see her anymore. By this time, the cricket chorus had tuned up and was getting quite loud. I was so glad that I had stayed out so late. In just a couple months by this time of night, I would be snuggled in flannel sheets, under a down comforter.
       Later on, I did some research on the Sphinx Moth and discovered that the horrible Horned Tomato Worm, the same worm that I have squashed so many times, is the larvae of the Sphinx Moth. From now on, I will let them live and share my tomatoes with them. I'll just plant a few extra plants. After all, the beauty of this giant moth is better than a tomato any day.


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