Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Being 60, Focusing on Adventure #11-16

by Donna L. Watkins

I'm about six weeks into this adventure and it's something I've now decided I need to do each year. This Story Begins Here.

Focusing on having 60 new adventures, since I was turning 60, has truly made me more aware of day-to-day life. When you're looking for a new experience you're actually looking for something good to happen. Because of that you notice all the good things that do happen in a day. They may not be new experiences, but it puts you in touch with "the present" and that's a good thing.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Locust Borer Beetle on Goldenrod
Greenstone Overlook Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
Many people spend days making plans for future events or spend too much time in the past with regret which only breeds hopelessness and depression. So I hope I'll start a new trend among people to celebrate their birthday age as a starting point for another year of being who you are and enjoying it. So ... here's more of the excitement I have found in this new year of adventure.

#11 of 60 - While walking along the short trail offered at Greenstone Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I found a new bug.

The larvae of this Locust Borer Beetle (Megacyllene robiniae) bore into the heartwood of living locust trees, so that's not a very nice thing to think about. It attacks only black locust trees of the genus Robinia, which originally grew only in the Allegheny and Ozark mountain regions.

Due to this tree's ability to thrive in poor soils, it has been widely used as a shade tree, therefore, the locust borer beetle has now extended its range and is found over most of the U.S. and southern Canada.

This adult version of the beetle is beautiful with the bright yellow base with an artist's abstract design on it's back. This is one magnificent insect that is about an inch long, stately and impressive. The adult beetle appears when goldenrod is in bloom, which is what this one is on. It's a main source of food for them as an adult.  View all photos of the Blue Ridge Parkway Day.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Two Female Sachem Skipper Butterflies with a Male in the Middle -
Humpback Rocks Homsetead on Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
#12 of 60 - I've been thrilled that many of my "new adventures" have been butterflies that I've never seen before. I love butterflies and since our habitat here at Bluebird Cove includes a butterfly bench, it's quite appropriate to be in love with them. The guy who made this is the husband of a very dear friend, who has gone on to Heaven a couple of years ago. The butterfly bench sure reminds me of her visits and her love of butterflies. I have another friend who loved Louise Allred also and when we see butterflies, we think of her.  Butterflies are a visual image of our being able to become something new by wrapping up the old and coming forth with a new vision and destiny.

While we visited the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the butterflies were numerous all over the zinnias placed around the edges of the vegetable garden at the homestead there. I saw a lot of familiar ones but noticed lots of these new ones on one end, as if they had all turned into butterflies that very morning.  They were to be identified later as male and female Sachem Skipper Butterflies.

While I snapped away, I was delighted to get this shot of three of them on one flower. I wasn't even sure they were the same butterfly, but discovered that it was two females with a male in the middle. Wasn't he in butterfly heaven? Since butterflies only live about two weeks, with a focus on eating, mating and laying eggs before they die, this guy was busy about butterfly business for sure. View all photos of the Blue Ridge Parkway Day.

#13 of 60 - Many times on our visits to the Blue Ridge Parkway, we'd take a county road that runs alongside the parkway and look at homes that had beautiful views and such great proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Of course, in reality, we wouldn't want to live that close since in its entirety the Parkway gets 19 million tourists a year.

However, there was always this place of mystery with a huge mansion that had many owners and a bit of romance to its original owner.  You couldn't see it from the road.  As I was looking for events scheduled around the time of our son's visit, I found that there was going to be an open house at Swannanoa Palace so it instantly went on the itinerary.

It was initially built as a summer palace for the wife of Major James H. Dooley, a millionaire and philanthropist who had a large estate in Richmond, Virginia. Swannanoa is an Italianate villa that took 300 artisans eight years to build and was completed in 1912 at a cost of $2 million.  The estate is now privately owned and is in the process of renovation for a possible bed and breakfast. With 52 rooms, there's still a lot of work to be done. View entire album of Swannanoa Palace in Nelson County, Afton, Virginia.

2010 marks the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  They have a new website to celebrate.  It's a great time of year to see Autumn colors along the Blue Ridge Mountains and if you're coming this way, be sure to let me know.  Maybe we'll be able to meet you for a short visit.  View Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Anniversary Website.  If you'd like more pictures, here's another album of the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley area.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Variegated Fritillary Butterfly - Grounds of Swannanoa Palace, Afton, VA
#14 of 60 - I was very excited when I determined that I had photographed a Variegated Fritillary Butterfly (Euptoieta claudia) on our visit to Swannanoa Palace. There are several varieties of fritillaries that look the same (to this my non-expert eyes). I had thought many times that I'd found a fritillary that I'd not seen before, only to find it was the Great Spangled Fritillary again and again.

There must have been some host plants on the property. A host plant for a butterfly is a place the female lays her eggs and the caterpillar begins to eat the leaves (and sometimes flowers depending on the butterfly species) of where the eggs were laid. Host plants are especially important since without them, there can be no butterflies. This particular butterfly uses a variety of plants - the more the better to keep it from extinction. The hosts include maypops / passion flower (Passiflora incarnata), may apple (Podophyllum peltata), violets (Viola), purslane (Portulaca), stonecrop (Sedum), and moonseed (Menispermum).

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Blue-ringed Dancer Damselfly
#15 of 60 - We live in a large community set amidst a rural county.  The downtown is two blocks long.  A few years ago they converted the railroad stretch from the main street into the Fluvanna Heritage Rail Trail.  It's a lovely wooded setting above the Rivanna River with benches available for resting or watching life flow by.

While my husband and son decided to descend a steep trail to the river, I noticed a damselfly that looked like a "new adventure" qualifier, so I took photos of that.  It turned out to indeed be a new one for me.  A beautiful Blue-ringed Dancer Damselfly (Argia sedula), so named for their dancing flight pattern.

Dragonflies hold their wings out and damselflies rest with them up and together.  Since I found some dragonfly larvae in our little pond, I've been even more fascinated with these beautiful creatures.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Basilica Orb Weaver's Egg Case
#16 of 60 - One day on the way back from the mailbox I noticed something I'd not seen before that seemed to be part of a spider web.  There was also a small spider below it, but with so little web I wasn't sure it was related.

Thanks to an online place where you can get bug photographs identified (Bug Guide.net). I discovered it was a Basilica Orb Weaver Spider's egg case.

I learned that this spider, like many orb weavers, cuts her web down each night. Unlike others, during egg laying time, this spider cuts her web in such a way that it drifts down over her eggs creating a protective coating. Quite a feat of physics and engineering ... another one of God's many miracles!  Continue on the adventure of life with me ....

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use either of them if you include the following credit and active link back to this website: © 2010 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from TheNatureInUs.com. The link to use is: www.TheNatureInUs.com.

No comments:

Share This Post