Hot and quiet.

It’s high July. High nineties. High noon. A good time for bird watching? No way. Do I go? Sure. Just want a little wildness around me.

A grasshopper lands on my hand. I shake it off, a chicken reflex that I’m not proud of. There are butterflies. More than usual. Big yellow ones and a big purple one.

I remember reading somewhere that these bugs were originally called “flutter-by’s” and got Spoonerized into “butter-flies.” But they don’t hold my interest.

I came with binoculars to see what meager bird sightings I’d find during this quiet time. And there’s a black Indigo Bunting. Huh.

Its blue plumage runs dark anyway, but this one’s high on a branch with backlighting, making it into a black silhouette.

I see bright yellow American Goldfinches. You can count on them in summer when other birds are scarce.

Then a big score, and well-named: A Summer Tanager.

It’s like a Scarlet Tanager without black on wings and tail. All red. Hadn’t seen one yet this year. A hot sighting for a hot day.

I walk on and meet a guy down the trail. A serious dude with a tripod scope. We nod. He says, “Get the Summer Tanager?” He’d noticed my binoculars.

“Yeah,” I say.

He nods. Then, “Well, have a good day.”

I say, “Hey, you too.”

A proper trail interchange: brief.

There’s a sign by the entrance that says “Conservation Area.” Some people must think it says “Conversation Area.”

You see them in here sometimes, yakking away, causing wildlife to hide. Nice people, sure. You’d talk with them at a bar or barbecue. But in the wild, conversation is best kept short. Like the one I have with tripod guy.

Back in the parking area, my car is an oven. I air it out. Too hot a day to be bird watching. Yeah, I don’t believe that.

Even if I didn’t see a Summer Tanager or Silhouette Bunting (new name for this bird), I still would’ve had a grasshopper land on my hand, thought about the odd origin of the word “butterfly” and walked through prairie grass near big trees.

A quiet day in a quiet place in high July.

4 Responses to “Hot and quiet.”

  1. Erik says:

    Some years ago I heard a joke about the word for butterfly in different languages. An Englishman talking about “flutter-by’s” and a Frenchman about “papillon” and a Spaniard about the beauty of “mariposa”. And then a German comes a long and says “Ach, schmetterling!”

  2. norm schaefer says:

    Always something to learn about the great outdoors at this site. I now know the origins of the word ‘Butterfly’! I will impress people at parties. I always prefer the ‘Great Outdoors’ to remain there, and not venture into my ‘Great Indoors’. I have had birds, wasps, a squirrel, mice, and a garden snake somehow get into my house. Hey! You out there! Wake up! This is an interesting email.

  3. bob faber says:

    It is fun to expand -butterflies, dragonflies, turtles, flowers, landforms, trees, etc. Everything is connected.


  4. Harlene says:

    I’ve always called them flutterbys. I think it serves this critter very well, don’t you?