Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
There have not been many Monarch butterflies about this year, and I did a spirited, wobbly dance on the weekend when a single glorious specimen flew past my freckled nose and alighted in a stand of blooming milkweed near the trail into the woods - in my excitement, I almost dropped the camera.
A few minutes later, a single cicada started to broadcast its call for a mate from somewhere higher on the ridge, then another and another and another. Again and again, their tymbal muscles contracted and relaxed, the rhythmic vibrations resulting in what is, to me anyway, summer's most resonant and engaging musical score. All the cares of the day fell away, and time stood still as I stood and listened to that poignant and hopeful chorus.
There are moments one remembers in the depths of winter, and this was one of them. How sweet it was to stand along the trail and listen to cicadas rumble and rasp in the trees overhead, watch a small bright wonder flutter and swoop and feed in fields of waving milkweed. Life simply doesn't get any better than this, and it doesn't get any wilder either.