Never-ceasing Wonders

We have returned from “The Zone of Totality”, witnesses to Monday’s Great American Eclipse. Everyone in our group wore those funny glasses, watching the sun shrink to an orange sliver through the lens. But the daylight only turned to star-specked darkness as the last rays of the sun slipped behind the moon’s black disk. We pulled off our glasses and whooped, cheered and howled at the beauty of the sun’s corona, a thin silver ring emanating delicate wisps of fiery starlight. Two minutes later, still bare-eyed, totality ended with a burst of welding-flame-bright sunlight (the awesome “diamond ring effect”) and forced us mere mortals to cover our eyes against the glory of the universe once again. As the shadow slowly slid off the sun, we resumed the more mundane eclipse-watching entertainments like taking pictures of dogs wearing eclipse glasses and admiring the tiny eclipse shadows cast by the foliage of trees and shrubs.

Back at work in the nursery, attending to everyday watering of trees and shrubs, Gus the Brittany Spaniel (Tyrannosaurus gus), announced with happy barking the discovery of another natural wonder (which he was hoping to eat, of course). A tiny owl alternated between fiercely peeping while jumping at Gus’ face and taking short (10-15’) flights to get away. After I got my pet predator under control, I managed to get a good look at the extremely cute owl. It rested against a little four-inch pot of Fringecup (Tellima grandiflora) until I got too close and it flew again, landing among Evergreen Violets (Viola sempervirens). I was trying to get a photo of it, but I decided to stop terrorizing it after it flew into a bed of Vanilla Leaf (Achlys triphylla). After some research, I believe Gus’ discovery was a fledgling Northern Pygmy Owl. I have never seen one before. It was beautiful! I failed to get a good picture of it, but here is a link to a picture of one.

Native plants and trees are not as Awesome as a Total Eclipse and generally not as Totally Cute as a Baby Owl, but they give life, receiving and distributing the energy of the Sun to all creatures great and small, feeding us, sheltering us, soothing us with gentle beauty and casting eclipse shadows through their leaves.