Silence
Anise Root ( Osmorhiza longistylis )

Anise Root (Osmorhiza longistylis)

In order to see the birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.
— Robert Wilson Lynd (1879 - 1949), writer, editor & essayist

10:20 am : : A warbler, the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), has visited our backyard the last two mornings. Our first record of the species on our property - noted in 2011 - was made on the first of May. Yet, Michael’s notes also include his sighting of a yellowthroat foraging in our compost in September of 2017. And so we are wondering…could its arrival in spring and autumn be an indication of its seasonal fly-through?

According to our Smithsonian guide, the yellowthroat is a summer resident of North America.

When I wrote these words this morning, I had not yet seen the tiny bird. It wasn’t until the afternoon, when Michael and Benjamin were out in the front yard…I was quietly standing alongside the pond listening to a single toad trill…

Mr. and Mrs. Catbird were moving through the hedge, courting in a most vocal and energetic way, and as they glided up into the branches of the Japanese maple tree I saw a small shape hopping after them through the hedge. Michael had mentioned to us earlier that each time he had seen the yellowthroat it was following after Catbird. Sure enough…the demure bird was a male yellowthroat!

According to Cornell Lab, the Common Yellowthroat was one of the first bird species to be catalogued from the New World, when a specimen from Maryland was described by Linnaeus in 1766.

While I would love to say I had the opportunity to photograph the yellowthroat, alas…I was not so fortunate. The little masked warbler remained in and around our property the entire day, foraging for insects in the hedgerow, the woodpile, the shady bed between the houses…but at no time was my camera within reach so I may make a picture of him.


However…I began the day with my camera in hand. And, I was able to capture images of the tiny white blooms of the thyme-leaved speedwell that appears each year in a cluster beside our fire ring. The native anise root in the woodland garden has opened its tiny white blooms…and the lacy yellow-white flowers of the alternate-leaf dogwood are opening, too!

Each year a cotton candy pink fleabane appears alongside the patio. Usually it is nestled in among the fringed bleeding heart and hostas but this year a new plant appeared…growing right up between two brick pavers. When Michael was relocating hostas I hastily pulled the original fleabane from the bed. I regret that decision now; I recall, last spring I watched a wonderful little spider living and hunting among the fleabane blooms. I wish I had looked more closely for such a spider before uprooting this (albeit volunteer) annual guest.

Oh! The wild geranium next to the pond is in bloom. The wrinkled pink leaves are beginning to open. This year I am going to (hopefully) be more conscious of the plant being smothered by ground covers (periwinkle, Virginia creeper) and the abundant columbines that often overshadow everything in the pond garden; I do not want her pink blossoms becoming lost in the tangle. ♥

Jessica Allen explores the fields and forests of Pennsylvania with her artist-husband, Michael Allen, and their son, Benjamin. She shares her observations through words and pictures of everyday magic and beauty she sees in her world.