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Just Outside My Door

June 28, 2011
By Elaine G. Cole, Correspondent
Greetings folks. We didn’t have as much rain last week although it was cooler until Wednesday. Several nights the thermometer dipped to the lower 50’s and even upper 40’s a couple times. It was great for working outside. My flower beds are all planted and also some new shrubs. Our son Kim got the old ones out with his tractor. Marlin, my faithful helper, accomplished a lot of the tasks and Bill helped some too.

The flowers in the beds are beginning to look beautiful. The next thing on the agenda is spreading the mulch that Greg will deliver. We are extremely blest to have willing family members and others that often come to our assistance when we ask them and sometimes even without our asking.

It’s not so bad being “old folks”!

Being outside more, I have had opportunity to see more of the bird’s activities. We haven’t had any bluebirds however, because both of the house wrens took over both of their birdhouses. The first fledglings have already left their nest, but the second ones are still too small. I’m hoping some bluebirds will choose to make their second nest in the recently vacated birdhouse. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the hummingbirds at the backyard feeder.

Speaking of hummingbirds, I recently got the newly published book, “Hummingbirds and Butterflies,” written by Bill Thompson III and Connie Toops. Thompson is the editor of “Bird Watcher’s Digest” and Toops is a professional, a consummate writer and photographer. Their book addresses the various kinds of hummingbirds and gives a great amount of information about those tiny birds and also a lot about butterflies. One can find almost anything concerning them — their description, the habitat that attracts them and much more.

The following lists just a few interesting facts about the amazing little hummingbirds. Its name, “hints at its mystery and it was inspired by the humming sound the wings make, flapping as they do at speeds as fast as 80 to 100 beats per second.” That’s what makes the wings hum when they fly through the air.

The only hummingbird in the eastern half of the United States, which includes our area, is the ruby-throated hummingbird, except on rare occasions when a western one drifts into the east. Its nest is about the size of a walnut and its two white nest egg are no larger than the eraser on a number 2 pencil. The female makes the nest and feeds the young ones without help from the male. In fact, his only task is to mate with a female.

The hummingbird needs proportionally more energy to live than any other warm-blooded animal. They have the highest body temperature, the proportionally largest brain and heart, and the latter’s heartbeat is the fastest of all birds. It also visits as many as 1,0000 individual flowers in a day, besides consuming a lot of protein. They eat about 1.5 times their body weight in nectar daily. That would be 60 times the amount of food humans eat daily. Thompson says that we often get hungry, “but could you handle 120 cheeseburgers in a day?”

There is much more information on hummingbird’s habits, etc,. in Thompson’s portion of the book.

Although I enjoy watching butterflies and recognize several kinds, I never knew much about them. All I knew was that they are usually colorful, pretty and exhibit metamorphism. I was greatly enlightened about their lives and habitat by all the information Toop wrote about them in the book, “Hummingbirds and Butterflies.”

For instance, they are insects but don’t bite. According to Toop they, “fall somewhere in between beneficial insects that pollinate and produce food. Their real gift is the beauty they bring into our lives, via vibrant colors on their delicate wings and by pollinating flowers we enjoy around our homes and in our travels.”

One year our mock orange, which was then just outside our laundry window, had so many butterflies on it I couldn’t even count them. It was a beautiful site. Seeing them is always a fun experience.

There is a large section about butterfly biology and their life history, which includes a simple metamorphosis as also do moths. The four very different stages are egg, caterpillar, pupa and adult. It’s a maturing process that begins when the female starts depositing single pale eggs on milkweed plants. Before she dies, she will lay about 200 eggs that are slightly thicker than pencil lead. The air temperatures are what determine their hatching into caterpillars, but it’s usually about four days. The caterpillars eat the milkweed leaves and it creates white sap which makes toxins that are transferred to the caterpillars and eventually into butterflies.

I know people that have found the caterpillars on a milk weed and brought them inside to watch its progress as it goes through the stages to become a butterfly. It’s a great way to teach children or anyone how amazingly it takes place. However, it is not surprising to me for in the first chapter of Geneses in God’s Word, He said that everything He created was good.

Toops writing about butterflies gives a great deal more information abut them. If you are interested in purchasing one for $14.95 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt at You might also find one at your local library or a bookstore.

• • • • •

Some folk think that small villages are a bad place to live because everyone knows what is happening to their neighbors. That may be true to one extent, but small town folk are compassionate, kind and always willing to help when there is a need, whoever it may be. Many also join together to take on a special project. One can usually know the people they see on the street and greet each other. Even if they see a stranger, one usually greets them too. When I go up town I often find myself visiting with whomever I might see.

We don’t live in the Village of Sherman, but we live just about two and a half miles out in the country. Thus we are often up town and know most folk we see there. I can easily testify that the small village and surrounding area of Sherman is a wonderful place to live. We don’t have all the sophisticated stores and entrainment that larger towns do, but what we have is great and we can always go somewhere else for a day or evening to get some of those “extra amenities” which I’m thankful we don’t have.


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