Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Going 'round the pond in summer, we are always looking for perfect water lilies and unblemished leaves, for little green water snakes and frogs resting on lily pads in the sunlight, for rainbow winged dragonflies hovering over like jewels over the calm, reflecting waters.
Sometimes a beaver swims by, or a muskrat perches on the far shore and peers at the blundering human on the verges of its watery home. Once, an otter scrambled up on a rock and stared at me curiously for several minutes, then slid off its perch and swam away up a nearby river. Occasionally, it yawned, displaying the bright red interior of its mouth and a set of wickedly sharp teeth.
Swamp milkweed is in bloom at the moment, and our pond's fringes are forests of waving pink and magenta. A little further out, water lilies (mostly yellow spatterdock) are home to a thousand species of pond life, and so are their leaves - the tiny residents make their way into almost every image captured, and sometimes I don't see them until I arrive home and take a closer look. Here and there, a perfect (and untenanted) leaf floats on the surface, but every serenely inhabited and artfully nibbled leaf is perfect too, just as it is.
It is always tempting to clean things up a bit when I return and upload the camera's contents, but I try to leave the images just as they were when they were captured - a bit of cropping is acceptable, but that is all. Milkweed and lilies, water snakes, frogs and dragonflies are just lovely, but bees, beetles, thrips and leafcutters are precious too, and they are icing on this wild old cake of mine.
I still need a new set of rubber hip waders to get closer to the residents of the pond, but that will have to wait until our present medical "toings and froings" have been completed. While thinking about it the other day, I was momentarily carried away, and I almost fell into the pond for the nth time since we acquired it, surely to become an impromptu (and inelegant) example of Archimedes' principle at work. Just how much pond does one old hen displace when she falls in anyway?