The Birds and the Bees and the Pippa

There is a cold wind blowing through the windows this morning.  The heat is finally, blissfully, thankfully gone.  The frogs are piping up outside.  (As well as in the basement where one has taken up residence.)  I love hearing the frogs.  My cough is coming along nicely (as in – gettin’ real good) and now my throat is feeling a little rough all over again.  New cold?  Or just the established one kicking up a fuss?  The news about the HAMP trial period is fully processed now.  I think.  So much so that Philip will be picking up free bricks from an acquaintance’s house.  We love bricks.  At the Beaver Street house I made a potager with brick pathways.  It was beautiful.  Philip hauled those bricks too, and laid them himself.  I wish I had pictures of it but I lost all of the ones I had on the first hard drive that crashed and burned.

The rain just started.  Beautiful sound.  It was a hard rain for a few minutes.

I have made no progress querying agents.  It has been all food preserving and work for the last couple of weeks.  I want to say it’s winding down but I know it isn’t yet.  Still catching up with my paid job and there’s still more preserving to be done.  Now that we’re going to have to go back to serious food budgeting (and meal planning, which I suck at and don’t like) it will not be a bad thing to take advantage of the cheap food of harvest season.

My main thought this weekend is how much joy our animals bring us.  Pippa is a daily joy – she’s so silly and so sweet and all that purring is very good for us.  Penny is funny and spunky and a little bit like Ozark (grumpy and complaining) but then she’ll curl up with us at night and be the sweetest girl.  Chick is extremely annoying with all the barking but then she does things like scare off proselytizers and strange men and I feel protected in our house, plus she is cute as hell and sweet and makes those old lady noises when she sighs.  Nadia (my mom’s dog) brings a lot of joy to people everywhere she goes.  Unlike Chick, she’s calm and doesn’t bark a lot and will shake your hand or give you a high five (such useful skills!) and she is such a good companion to my mom.

I also think about the wildlife all around us that make us happy.  The visiting bat, the frogs I’m listening to right now, the butterflies, and the gold finches my mom has brought to the yard.  The mourning doves that coo all over the neighborhood are also great and the dragonflies.

I hope that you all have a life rich with pets and wildlife too.  I am constantly reminded that the matters of men aren’t so important but the matters of bees and spiders and bats are important to us all.  Man (as  a whole) contributes nothing to the eco-system but its wanton destruction.  A friend of mine in Austin was just saying on her blog that one of the most important things people can do during the serious drought they’re having is not to stop gardening but to create a habitat for wildlife because the drought has decimated so much of it.  It reminds me that we should all be doing that all the time anyway.  You can garden for yourself, of course, and grow the things that bring you joy, but it’s possible to simultaneously provide shelter, water, and specific foods to your local wildlife.  It just takes a little thought.  Just a little care.

I had a neighbor in Santa Rosa who got her garden certified as a habitat for birds and insects.  It was gorgeous.  She also grew food but all over her property she had things growing that specifically feed local varieties of birds and butterflies.  She grew milkweed for Monarchs.  I never specifically planned my garden that way but every single garden I’ve ever inherited was nearly barren of birds, bees, butterflies, or anything living that wasn’t a bad pest* (earwigs, slugs, etc).  I’ve left every garden I’ve ever worked in richer in beneficial insects and bird life.  That has always been such a marvel to me.  How if you remove lawn, remove gravel, feed the dirt, plant herbs, plant flowers, plant wild things, plant food, and have thickets, you will bring life, you will invite a fuller, sweeter, more colorful cycle of lives all around you.

I’ve had my mind on this for a couple of weeks.  I don’t do much good in this world but I know I’m not doing all bad when every year I hear more frogs in my yard, see more bees, spot a lacewing or two, see hoards of ladybugs come through in spring, find a preying mantis, see more and more varieties of birds at different seasons, and watch the Damselflies and dragonflies floating through the roses and across the vegetable beds.

A couple of huge orb weavers have been keeping me from the tomato beds because their webs seem to be connected to every branch I touch and I am terrified that I will walk right into one.  I have big spider fears.  But the whole time I’m out there I’m telling them how glad I am to see them busy in my garden.  I tell them I don’t want them to leave and ask them politely to stay in the same spot every day where I can see them but they don’t oblige.  In spite of my fear of them, it is a sign of great garden health that we have so many of them keeping the other insects under control.

These things make me feel good.

Now I must get some work done, make some Damson jam, and hustle Philip to make breakfast and go haul bricks.

Have a great Sunday!

*This is relative.  Earwigs aren’t actually “bad”, they just happen to like to eat some of the same things people do.  Same with slugs.  They are pests because they like what we like and compete for our food and sometimes destroy ornamentals we enjoy.  I simply want to point out that I don’t actually think of them as being bad, so much as I like them to be in balance with other insects.

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