Day Lilies

(Toledo, OH) The mid-afternoon sun kind of washed out these red-and-yellow day lilies - almost like as if they were under some kind of bright bathroom lighting - and I think their colors would have been more vivid later in the evening. Still we can't always find the right subjects when we lack the camera, just like the environment sometimes inteferes with our photographic muse.

The best thing about day lilies is that these plants can withstand almost any conditions and still thrive. Even after two weeks without rain, these flowers never fail to disappoint.



Puggle Looking Upward

(Toledo, OH) In the accompanying photograph, our two-year-old Puggle longingly looks up at me from behind our picket fence. His expression is a mixture of a desire to be with me and resignation that I am not going to hop the fence.

I am far too old to be risking impalement on a picket.

Then again, if I did not spend so much time at computer desks, I might still be in the sort of shape you need to be if you want to hop fences in your mid-40s.

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Northern Flicker

(Toledo, OH) I heard an unusual sound in my red maple today, sort of like a "chur-r-r-r-r" and then a tapping. I looked up in the tree and saw a Northern flicker busy demolishing a branch some sixty feet in the air. The accopanying photo is a bit blurry, given the distance and the 200-pecks-per second pace this bird's head moved.

In reading further, the Northern flicker is quite common, but this is the first one I recall seeing in Toledo.

I assume that these birds have no interest in Mykonos villa rentals, but one never knows. Maybe migratory birds really spend the winter in posh accommodations instead.


American Goldfinch

(Toledo, OH) We have a number of yellow warblers and American goldfinches in my neighborhood that continue to defy my efforts at capturing these colorful birds in a decent digital image. Even enhanced with editing software, this goldfinch is still quite blurry, but I am determined to keep my camera with me on every dog walk I take this summer until I get some better images of these songbirds.

It always seems that the best images - like when I saw a mating pair of these goldfinches splashing in a puddle - only happen when I am sans camera. It might also behoove me to invest in better flash memory for such occasions.



American Robin

(Toledo, OH) To many folks in the American Midwest, the robin is a common bird that merits little excitement upon its visitation in a person's backyard. As an ex-Michigander, however, I recall this creature's status as the state bird, and I hold Turdus migratorius with a bit more esteem than perhaps other birdwatchers might. While somewhat migratory in nature, I suspect that American robins need not concern themselves with the necessity of providing Los Angeles resumes.

My cherry trees have been a source of sustenance for many nearby robins this summer, and they get into pitched battles with grackles and blue jays over feeding rights. The robins, however, hold their own with these more aggressive birds, and continue to provide me with their melodious voices every morning and evening.



Tiger Lilies

I never grow tired of looking at my tiger lilies each summer, and they provide me with several weeks of brilliant orange-and-yellow color at a time when most of the early-blooming plants have long since turned in their petals.

My neighbor disparagingly calls these flowers "ditch lilies," and he grumbles at the amount of space these hardy perennials take up. Yet I appreciate the relative ease and low maintenance associated with these flowers, and they are welcome in my garden any time.



Fourth Fireworks

(Toledo, OH) The proliferation of high-powered fireworks means that I no longer have to leave my yard to watch several days worth of displays. A number of my neighbors are diehard pyrotechnical maniacs, so we get an endless choice of shows from about June 30 to July 6 each year.

Of course, as I age, I begin to lose my enthusiasm for watching these displays, particularly when I would rather enjoy a quiet evening at home. This is coupled by the fact that some of these fireworks enthusiasts have little training, and frequently begin their shows after a day's worth of pounding cans of Budweiser and doing shots of tequila.

I'd make a crack about gene pools and improvement in the human species through pyrotechnical attrition, but I'd rather just mention that these folks should be glad that there are Medicare advantage options available to them.



(Toledo, OH) They are found almost everywhere on this planet, and my backyard is no exception to the ubiquitousness of the lowly ant. This appears to be a carpenter ant, one of a number variety of members of the family Formicidae who roam and live on my property.

Fortunately, we have seen few ants wandering in the house this year, as I prefer not to bombard my property with any more chemicals than necessary. I'm not sure if this is due to ideal housekeeping, canines on patrol, or just dumb luck.

I vote for the first choice.