Sweet Summer—and a Missed Milestone

As I was posting my shrouded aurora a few days ago, I realized that it was my 701st post, and that I had missed mentioning the #700 milestone when I posted the previous one (back in March—was it really so long ago?!), so I guess it’s probably worth mentioning now.

Here in the northern hemisphere the summer metamorphoses into autumn on September 23, coinciding with the autumnal equinox. In New Zealand, our other home, the corresponding seasonal change (from winter to spring) fell on September 1. I’ve often wondered which was decided on first and why someone chose to use a different criterion for the other half. Ah, well, maybe I’ll try to research that some day.

Meanwhile, as I’m savoring the last two and a half weeks of summer here in northern Minnesota, I find myself often in the forest, especially on a new path that I carved in what I call the Three-Acre Wood that lives adjacent to our cabin. It passes by a small area that is relatively free of tall trees, in which flat-topped asters (Aster umbellatus) and Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) flourish, and at this time of year the  Painted Lady butterflies (Cynthia cardui) are afield in abundance and are attracted to both of them. The upper, flashy surfaces of their wings are legendarily beautiful, but I love to study their intricate, delicate, and more subdued undersides. These two were particularly cooperative four days ago as I said goodbye to August.

About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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17 Responses to Sweet Summer—and a Missed Milestone

  1. Peter Klopp says:

    I love your butterfly shots. Great captures!

  2. krikitarts says:

    Thanks, Peter, I love it when my subjects ignore my proximity and hold still for a few seconds!

  3. Mike Powell says:

    I love your butterfly shots, Gary. This seems to be butterfly season everywhere and I have been posting photos of them too recently. As I was doing some research for a recent photo, I came across a comparison between American Ladies (sometimes known as American Painted Ladies) and Painted Ladies (Vanessa (Cynthia) cardui). (https://bugguide.net/node/view/236368) Judging by the number of eyespots on your butterfly, I wonder if it might be a Painted Lady. As for the determination of the seasons, I think that it is the difference between meteorological seasons and astronomical seasons. Of course, it is an entirely different question (for which I have no answer) why some countries choose one rather than the other. :)

    • krikitarts says:

      Thanks very much for your alert response, Mike! I see that I need to do a little more research before pushing the Publish button. Only the American Painted Lady was listed in my handiest reference book, the Audubon Guide to Insects and Spiders, and I was eager to post, so I didn’t take the extra time to check with BugGuide, which, I hasten to add, I have often used in the past. You are quite right, and I’ve changed the ID in the text of the post.

      • Mike Powell says:

        You are welcome, Gary. Not long ago, I commented to a friend that I was turning into a nature geek. He looked at me and with a smile responded, “Turning into…?”

  4. shoreacres says:

    You know what September 1 is in Australia, don’t you? It’s Wattle Day! I just learned that myself, and was surprised to see how many wattle species are abroad in that land. Do you have wattles in New Zealand? I used to think NZ and AUS would have the same plants, but I’ve found that’s not always so.

    I see these butterflies from time to time, but usually farther north, in the Texas hill country. They do tend to be obliging. Sometimes I imagine them thinking, “Leave me alone. Can’t you see I’m busy here?”

    • krikitarts says:

      Yes, Linda, the wattle (acacia) is quite well established in NZ, although it’s not considered native, but introduced from Australia. And you’re quite right that the spectrum of species of plants in NZ and Oz can vary considerably, though there are, of course, many that are common to both.

  5. Meanderer says:

    I like how you have shown the upperside and underside of the butterfly in the second image; so pretty.

    We have two beginnings of Autumn in the UK: meteorological Autumn on Sep 1 and the Autumnal equinox which falls around 20-23 Sep.

    • krikitarts says:

      Yes, the first date for the start of autumn in NZ that pops up in Google is the autumnal one but, in my experience, all Kiwis consider the meteorological one to be the official transitional landmark. So you celebrate two beginnings there? Is that a remnant of the druids’ love of reasons to hold celebratory festivities? If so, count me in!

  6. Meteorological autumn is Sept. 1 so possibly New Zealand goes by that rather than a calendar…although the calendar does contain Sept. 1.
    Despite everything going on in the aster image with the frit (?), it’s a very pleasing image.

  7. Adrian Lewis says:

    Beautiful pictures, my friend; we see this species here too sometimes; I’m a huge butterfly fan. A :)

  8. Vicki says:

    Great photos. Those butterflies certainly did co-operate by keeping so still.

    Still a bit chilly in the southern hemisphere but no doubt you’ll be off to your other home soon.

    • krikitarts says:

      Nights are starting to get chilly here. No frost as yet, but it can’t be far away. A few of the maples and sumacs are starting to change to their legendary flaming red. It’s a little after 8 am now, and the lake is perfectly calm, like a 1.5- by 5-mile sheet of glass. I do love this time of year!

  9. bluebrightly says:

    Gorgeous photos! I remember the thrill I would get when I could see the undersides of Painted Lady wings…usually in the garden…I don’t see them often enough anymore because I think they’re less common here than they are on the east coast, where I used to live. So thank you for this!

  10. I was taken aback a few years ago when I learned that New Zealand sets its season boundaries in different places from ours. It’s true that the climatological seasons lag the astronomical ones, for example with August being our hottest month even though summer officially begins in late June. What September 1st actually coincides with in New Zealand, if anything, I haven’t found out.

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