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“ Take them in season, pluck and eat, ,
And made such a bang,
Old Deacon Lang Woke up out of his Sunday nap.
Green fruit, he said, God would not bless;
The fruits Heaven sent.
Then on he went
But, I say, Bob! we fellows don't care
Home grubs, and sing
To their young ones, a-swing In their basket-nest, tied up by its string.
I like apples in various ways :
I scarce ever saw
One, cooked or raw,
But shake your fruit from the orchard tree,
And the grass and the flowers,
And the long summer hours,
But this is a hard one! Why did n't we
And the taste of it puckers
My mouth like a sucker's !
7. T. Trowbridge.
THE long, cold winter days have all passed away, and midsummer, with its
jolly weeks of vacation, has come to make merry the hearts of all our little young folks. How happy we were — Tom, Maggie, and I — when the appointed morning came, and we left our home in the city to spend a few weeks among the fresh green fields! What a sensation of new life we all felt as we passed up the beautiful Connecticut Valley, and saw the meadows and trees and flowers, and smelt the sweet air from a hundred clover-fields ! And now here we are, up among the Green Mountains, spending our days in all kinds of country sports and pleasures. Tom thinks that perhaps some other little young folks would like to know what we are doing, and how we are learning many things which winter schools have failed to teach us.
One day, when we first came here, we were all out walking, and saw a whole crowd of little ruddy-faced boys playing about by the roadside. They were running this way and that, and swinging their little straw hats in the air. At first we could not see what they were about, but soon Tom shouted, “O, they are butterfly hunters,” and off he started to join them.
Now Tom, Maggie, and I had hunted butterflies the summer before, and Tom knew all about the best way to trap the delicate little insects ; but we found that these little fellows, although eager for the sport, were quite ignorant as to the ways and means to prosecute it successfully. Tom made acquaintance with the whole band at once, and since that day we have all spent many pleasant hours together, hunting through the meadows and woods for specimens of different kinds of butterflies. Under our guidance the little boys have become very skilful in this pursuit ; the little straw hat has given place to a neat net, and instead of the poor broken-winged insects which the boys did not think worth keeping, but generally threw away as soon as they were caught, they have collections of very neatly mounted specimens, and are much interested in every new variety they are able to capture.
It would be quite impossible to tell about all the pleasant hunts we have had, or to describe all the varieties we have placed in our collection ; but I will do what I can to interest our young folks, and perhaps, when I have told them some things about butterflies, they may hunt and catch specimens for themselves.
July and August, the very months when school is shut up, and the children are free for the long holidays, is the time when the fields and woods are full, more than at any other season, of the most brilliant and gorgeous species of butterflies. It is now that the Papilio Asterias spreads its large, brilliant wings, and flutters about in the hot July sun. All the small varieties of butterflies are also very numerous at this season of the year ; and in the open, sunny fields, the cool woods, and damp meadows, may be found many varieties to enrich the collections of boy and girl hunters.
The instinct for catching butterflies seems to be born with little folks.
What boy could see the brilliant little insect flit past him, and not give chase, and with a blow of his hat fell the pretty game to the ground ? This is, however, very ruthless sport. To catch butterflies, a few simple implements, easily to be obtained by any boy, are indispensable. These are a firmly made net, light and easy to handle, a small bottle of ether, and a box in which to mount the specimens. By means of the net, the butterfly can be easily secured without injury, and held while the little naturalist administers the drop of ether which serves to quiet the fluttering of the wings and render the insect insensible, while it is secured, by means of a pin through the body, to the case prepared to preserve it.
In the tropical countries, where summer reigns eternal, the butterflies, as a general thing, are much larger and much more beautiful in color than those produced during our short season of green grass and flowers. Mr. Church, the artist, has brought home from the plains of Mexico and the South American wilds a collection wonderful for its brilliant and magnificent coloring. The glossy blue of the wings of some of the insects is far richer than any color worn by our Northern butterflies. We have also seen a collection made in India, which bore this same character. Travellers in foreign lands have very frequently brought back with them collections of this nature ; but, while admiring these, we fear our boys and girls have overlooked the beauties nearer home, for, until recently, we have heard of but little effort among them to form collections of native specimens. Our Northern butterflies, although not possessing the great brilliancy of their tropical relations, are quite as beautiful in markings, and of very great variety in color.
The beauty of this summer season of the year is enough in itself to tempt the boys out into the fields and woods; and the ramble will receive a new interest if they open their eyes to notice the hundreds of butterflies which are flitting through the air every sunny morning. Let us take a bright day in the early part of August, and as soon as the sun has dried the dew from the grass and flowers, so that the butterflies can come out from under the leaves where they have spent the night, and fly about without fear of wetting their dainty feet, we will swing our nets over our shoulders, and go off into the open meadows. But first we must pass through the garden back of the house, where sunflowers, hollyhocks, and other common plants are growing luxuriantly side by side with beds of parsley, caraway, sage, and camomile. What is that brilliant spot of color hovering round and round over the parsley ? Tom has swung his net, and there entrapped is the beautiful insect. Hold it very carefully in the net, while Maggie pours just one drop of ether on its head. How it draws back at first from the odor which is to be its death, but all in vain ; the large wings give one last, faint futter, and the short, sunny life of the butterfly is over. There it lies still and quiet in your hand. Now fasten it in your box, and arrange the wings before they grow stiff and brittle. What a great, handsome fellow it is ! Measure its wings ; they expand nearly four inches. The wings and body are both black. On the body are two rows of yellow dots, and the front wings have two rows of yellow spots on the margin. Each of the hind wings has a little tail, and is marked with two bands of yellow, between which are seven bright blue spots. Just at the hind angle of the wing is an orange spot with a black dot in the centre. This large, handsome butterfly is called Papilio Asterias. Here is a picture of it, so that you will know just how it looks.*
You will find it Aying about in July and the early part of August, generally in or near some kitchen garden.
There are several other large and very beautiful butterflies belonging to this same species ; but we must not stop to talk about them here, for Tom and Maggie have already passed through the little garden gate, and are walking slowly along the road. We will join them, and when we reach that old pair of bars we will climb over and sit down to rest under the elm-tree in the meadow. There we can watch the haymakers at work. How pleasant it is here under the elm in the summer noon-time! The haymakers are sitting down to rest under the trees at the farther end of the lot, and in the pasture near by the cattle are all lying down in the shade, throwing their tails about now and then, or sleepily whisking an ear to drive away the teasing little flies which always torment them on a hot summer day. The whole air is fragrant with the new-mown hay, which lies all about.
“Only see all those little yellow butterflies ! ” cries Tom; and as we look around over the field the whole air appears alive with the gay little honeyeaters. How strange it seems to be surrounded by so much life and activity, and yet to hear no sound of any motion! Hundreds of these brilliant little insects are hovering all about us, revelling in the hot summer sun, and yet how silent it is! It seems as if there must be some spiritual element about these fairy-like creatures, and that they must be part of the sunshine itself
. How silent throughout is the butterfly's existence! From the beginning to the end of its short life it makes no sound. The bee, the wasp, and
* The plates that illustrate this article are taken from “The Butterfly Hunters," published by Messrs. Ticknor and Fields.