Pretty poison: lovely to look at --- but don't touch.
The days turned toward fall here Friday; I'm certain of it. Someone opened the windows in Council Bluffs, then in Burlington; a cool wind came down from the Rockies, swept across the Plains, then blew all the sticky fustyness of a long hot wet summer right out of Iowa, across the Mississippi into Illinois.
I'm sure we'll have more heat and humidity, but I'm treating today as the start of a new season anyway.
Have you ever noticed that there's always a sentinel hard maple that signals the shift in seasons by turning first? In this neighborhood, it's this one in front of Carpenter's Hall at the foot of the hill to the north. Everything else around here, other than the walnuts, is still green.
And a few of the leaves on this American elm sapling down along the Cinder Path this afternoon. Remember that wonderful yellow? Sadly, except for a few isolated giants and saplings like this that tend to be short-lived, those wonderful old trees are gone.
When I was a kid, the main street into Russell from the west and continuing on to the school at the east was lined by giant wineglass elms and I remember driving through the golden late-afternoon tunnel they formed when headed in to football games. We're not likely to see their likes again, thanks to dutch elm disease.
At first I thought the butterflies had gone mad with joy, dozens of them in at least five varieties ranging from monarch to swallowtail fluttering madly ahead of me, chasing each other down the trail this afternoon, banging into my head, alighting on my shirt.
Then I decided they were probably drunk --- maybe on elderberry schnaps. There are so many varieities of ripe and over-ripe berries and soft fruit right now it's no wonder.
The spectacle took me so much by surprise I forgot that I had a camera. But later on I came upon this guy, fattening himself on milkweed as the process of producing one of next season's butterflies continues. But which end is up?