…it’s magic. Or if you will, a gracious gift of God.
Wild animals frequent this space. In the past, I’d seen only the orange type of dragonflies on the property, but now, a different guy was just relaxing on a fig leaf. I walked all around the insect and talked to him, and he didn’t appear to flinch, so I stood right in front and met him face-to-face. His giant eyes did move about cartoon-like, seemingly trying to focus on my face, and his head side to side. Evidently I did not pose a threat; he remained calm, and I went back to work.
But then there was my own cabbage white hanging on a stem of lavender:
This next garden animal is so tiny, I am amazed that I even noticed him perched on a helianthemum flower that was an inch across. He came into focus once the photo was saved on my phone.
The birds are not tame. This morning, we were sitting or standing by the kitchen windows when Clunk! a smallish bird flew into the slider, and we looked up to see only a flash of vast patterned wings, as a raptor swooped under the patio arbor and with a whoosh carried off the little bird. That is the wildest event ever.
Here in the Land of Perpetual Drought, we still have wetlands! On Sunday Pippin and I found ourselves with a few hours for just the two of us, and we walked in a wetlands wildlife preserve. We saw snowy egrets, ducks, red-winged blackbirds and a few other birds we didn’t know the names of, as we walked a 2-mile loop in the afternoon.
I noticed that the docent-led tours of the site only go through June; is it because the birds aren’t as plentiful after that? Or is it the schoolchildren who are scarce then? In any case, the plants were easier for us to get close to than the birds, although they were also flying around in the wind, so I don’t have many good pictures, but I wanted to share a bit of what I did come home with.
These tall and long-stemmed plants were covered with little overlapping seed pods, in varying stages of maturity and color, from purple like this one to tan and near white. One of them was covered with black and green bugs who seemed to be close relations.
I got one focused profile picture of a green one, and my entomological identification skills are practically non-existent, so I am putting a blurry picture here, too, in case someone who knows things happens by and wants to instruct me.
It’s always a bit sad when one meets a fellow-creature and can’t greet them by name, or learn the name in anticipation of a next meeting. [Tipped off by a commenter below, I will call this fellow “Green Stink Bug” if I meet him again.] But I must prioritize, and probably should care more about that sadness as it pertains to the humans I meet…. Let’s see, what was the name of that woman I met at church Sunday?
The flowers above I had been walking briskly by, thinking unconsciously of Queen Anne’s Lace, and then suddenly I thought, No, they are most likely Parsley Family members, but the flower head is not the same, and they are so short… When I came home I looked up various hemlocks, etc, and didn’t come to any conclusions. 😦
In the process, though, I read on Wikipedia: “Apiaceae or Umbelliferae, is a family of mostly aromatic flowering plants named after the type genus Apium and commonly known as the celery, carrot or parsley family, or simply as umbellifers.” The word umbellifer made me laugh out loud; somehow it sounds like a group who would resist domination by naming and categorizing, and from now on I will just be happy if I can be on terms with them all friendly enough to say, “Hello, Umbellifer!”
Another mystery plant is this one:
…which did not always grow in a mound shape. It has long draping stems with bead-like buds:
At least, they appear to be about to open into flowers. I have to be content to remain ignorant and unknowing about more and more things, it seems, the longer I live.
Pippin is the perfect companion on a walk like this. She doesn’t mind my dullness or my stopping and staring; actually she encourages the latter, as she is always drawing my attention to something I was oblivious to. She had never been to this place before, and it had been years since I went with my husband. We were so glad to be together on a gorgeous and mild summer day in a natural oasis of sorts hidden away from most people — but the birds know!
Even before I had left my neighborhood, the day before I was scheduled to fly out of San Francisco to Washington DC, I had “adventures.” In the morning, my back went out. After church traveling prayers were said for me, and I paid close attention to the request that my journey be healthful. Would God heal me overnight? That afternoon I took a walk in the neighborhood, because my chiropractor told me once that when you walk, every step is like a little adjustment; I know from experience that walking is healthful, and I hoped that the kinks would work themselves out, and the spasms cease.
While I was walking I admired the eucalyptus trees; they caught my attention by the loud hum overhead, the noise of hundreds of flies and bees of every sort working at the blooms. Blooms? Indeed, in November. Some of the species of this tree do bloom in the fall, as I found by first-hand observation, and when I got home and read about them online. The flowers were mostly too high up for me to get a good picture, and the leaves were prettier, anyway.
While walking I got a text message from daughter Kate, whom I was going to see at the end of my journey the next day. “My” bench was close by, so I sat down to type a message back to her. Yowie! A beast I never saw stung me on the finger, and it filled with biting pain. I cut my walk short and started back the way I had come, thinking I should hurry home and take my wedding ring off before swelling could tighten it and add to the discomfort. Then I realized that my flesh was already puffing up, and I managed to remove my ring with the help of some saliva.
My back was feeling a little better, but my finger was stabbing for several hours, anytime I took it out of the ice water, and that distracted me from my final preparations — but I guess I did at least pack what I needed, and I went to bed hoping for a better tomorrow.
I don’t think often about my wedding bands. I have one on each hand since my late husband and I bought new ones for our 40th anniversary four years ago; at that time I had the original band resized and I wear it on my right ring finger. When I became a widow I had no desire to take off my rings – I feel that in my heart and soul I am still married.
But before I set off for the airport the next morning, when I tried to put my newer ring back on, the finger was still too swollen, and I had to leave the ring behind and go naked on that finger for the first time in nearly 45 years. So that was the first new thing I experienced on my trip.
My back seemed to be fine when I woke. I was taking the usual NSAIDs, but it remained to be seen how I would do sitting in buses and airplanes and cars for the next nine hours. Sitting is typically the opposite of walking as far as back health goes.
When I was planning for this trip I was looking forward to uninterrupted reading time on the plane(s), ten hours or more, plus reading for a few minutes in bed each night before sleep. I wanted to read on a topic somehow connected to the people or sights I would see, and one obvious one was India. No, India was not on my itinerary, but one big reason I was making a trip to visit Kate right now is that she and her husband are moving to India next year for work. They will be there two years; since they are very important people to me I’d like to know something about this place that will be their home. Also, I hope to visit them there!
So as soon as I settled on to the airporter bus, I opened my Kindle and began to read Midnight’s Children by Salmon Rushdie. I had brought along a fat fleece neck pillow, tied with a ribbon to my backpack, and I tucked that behind me for back support, and was good to go. For a while I talked with my seatmate, a woman much older than I who was traveling to a North Carolina wedding brave and cheerful in spite of having just recovered from a broken hand, and not quite recovered from the death of her foster son. She was encouraging just by being herself.
Nothing eventful happened on my flight east. My naked finger never stopped feeling odd; it was Something New the whole week. I had extra legroom on that nonstop flight, the seat next to me was empty, and I enjoyed the quiet and solitude. The book was good, and my back hurt not a bit, thanks be to God. I spent a few hours in India, and then my plane touched down in Washington, DC.
“I wandered everywhere, through cities and countries wide. And everywhere I went, the world was on my side.” – Roman Payne