Happily the Rains Subside

posted in: Garden Sanctuaries | 32


Mud Turtle


Pipevine Swallowtail


Happily the rains subside.

Mud turtle crossing the yard

to the swollen creek stops

stock still. Distracted,

I turn away

for a moment.

Turning back, he’s gone.


Two pipevine swallowtails,

turquoise flashing against black,

sipping the last of the monarda,

swooping again and again,

taunting a thrasher

on the ground

who snaps up at them.

One keeps flapping

like a wind-whipped flag

while the other nectars

as if distracting the predator,

the way a mother

bird will distract

you away from a nest.


Green frogs in the still

Dripping pond with

Big golden eyes.


We are watching

each other, too.


Green Frog
Bull Frog and Green Frog
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32 Responses

  1. Laurie Lindgren

    Thank you, you are a brilliant photographer and writer with such a keen eye and a loving heart. I appreciate your and all your richness of love and talent!

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Laurie, it’s those pipevine swallowtails that are are brilliant! Such a nice surprise to see them here in the garden for the first time. I’m so happy to get to share this love of nature with you.

  2. Margot Ringenburg

    Lovely! Special moments, delightful & amusing critters!
    So happy to have your pond–and a joy for you, as well.

  3. Barb

    So happy for your pond and all the life surrounding it, and thankful for your noticing.

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Barb, you have such a faithful practice of observing nature. I enjoy learning from your precious noticings, too! I had no idea that the pond would immediately attract such a diversity of frogs: bullfrogs, green frogs, Southern leopard frogs, and Cope’s gray tree frogs. The green frogs are our favorites because they come right up close, within inches of us, and watch everything we’re doing as if very curious.

  4. Marilyn Grubbs

    Beautiful photos and beautiful words! Thanks for introducing me to the pipevine swallowtails!

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Thanks, Marilyn. Yes, the pipevine swallowtails are astoundingly beautiful. That flash of turquoise light from their wings is amazing. I’m grateful for their presence in this gorgeous world.

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      You’re welcome, Ann. I’m curious to know what butterflies you’ve been observing in your gardens. I was worried that there didn’t seem to be many this summer, but now it seems like it’s raining butterflies! I’m happy and relieved

  5. Jill Over

    Nature keeps giving and giving and so do you, Betty Lou! with love, jill

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      You have an eye for beauty, too, Donna! I first saw pipevine swallowtails landing on smooth coneflowers at one of the Durham diabase sites. We do have some Aristolochia (their host plants), but it was still a wonderful surprise to see them here.

  6. Vicki

    Lovely to observe these gorgeous creatures happily being gorgeous creatures. May their contentment drift into yours.

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Yes, Libby, it’s really about blessing, isn’t it. Blessing the creatures whose land we live in. Blessing the whole web of interactions and awareness these creatures share. Blessing them by stepping for a moment into that web of shared awareness. Blessing each other when we tell the story of such a moment.

  7. Amina Linda McMakin

    Beautiful! Inspires me to start hanging out at our own “Turtle Cove” pond again!

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Amina, please do let us know what you observe when you hang with the critters at Turtle Cove. I love that name! My imagination is running wild with what you might find there.

  8. Ralph Earle

    Thanks for sharing, Betty Lou. I love your close observations and the way you stay with the scene, even while placing yourself inside it. The photos are remarkable!

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Diantha, if I could somehow contribute to inspiring people to spend more time in and love nature again, the way we used to, even while all this destruction is taking place, I would be grateful

  9. Riverdave

    thanks betty lou for capturing that special moment! is that a mud turtle or a musk turtle? usually i find the mud turtle has a flatter shell than the one in your photo, but i imagine you did your research on this … rd

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      rd, thanks for making me look deeper into the differences between mud and musk turtles. I wish we had looked at his lower shell. That would have really distinguished them. He was traveling overland, which musk turtles rarely do. Our definitive “research”, however, is that David did pick him up and he did not leave that musky “stinkpot” smell!

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