Tag Archives: praying mantis

Primal moods and movements.

From George MacDonald’s year-long Diary, a few stanzas from the section “September”:

4.  In the low mood, the mere man acts alone,
Moved by impulses which, if from within,
Yet far outside the centre man begin;
But in the grand mood, every softest tone
Comes from the living God at very heart—
From thee who infinite core of being art,
Thee who didst call our names ere ever we could sin.

8.  Poor am I, God knows, poor as withered leaf;
Poorer or richer than, I dare not ask.
To love aright, for me were hopeless task,
Eternities too high to comprehend.
But shall I tear my heart in hopeless grief,
Or rise and climb, and run and kneel, and bend,
And drink the primal love—so love in chief?

25.  Lord, loosen in me the hold of visible things;
Help me to walk by faith and not by sight;
I would, through thickest veils and coverings,
See into the chambers of the living light.
Lord, in the land of things that swell and seem,
Help me to walk by the other light supreme,
Which shows thy facts behind man’s vaguely hinting dream.

-George MacDonald, from A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old Soul


Pippin Photo

Friends and Gifts

The garden is so appealing at this time of year. It’s satisfying to clean things up and trim bushes. I bought some chrysanthemums and snapdragons so I’ll be ready when the zinnias fade…but until then, I don’t know what to do with them. Maybe I was too hasty.

I spent quite a mantis 9-11-14while in the hot sun on Friday and Saturday, enjoying the pungent smell of the santolina that I was shearing down to stubs. It reminds me of the sagebrush of the desert or the bushes that grow at the beach. I met this mantis there. After I studied him and followed him for a while I had to get back to work, and I couldn’t notice if he went into the lavender or the rosemary, both of which had more hiding places remaining. I wonder which herby scent he likes best?

Mexican Evening Primrose

I cleaned up the bed where the Mexican Evening Primrose grows, hoping that it will look like this again next spring. It’s a great plant for dry California summers, only needing water a couple of times all summer long.

My friends and relations have been so good to me lately. I recently told you about Garden P1110326Doll who was a gift from my goddaughter. Last month another good friend went to South Carolina and brought me back an Appalachian story-telling doll, who is Little Red Riding Hood, the grandmother and the wolf all in one doll, if you just turn it upside down or switch the bonnet around. I can’t wait to show her/them to the little grandchildren.


My Dear Pennsylvania Cousin and I had been talking about Rumer Godden’s books, when she discovered this copy of The Mousewife on her shelf, and promptly mailed it to me. I read the story last night and — what a blessing! I may never have read that one otherwise, because the blurb I saw about the story made me think ill of the mousewife. Instead, I found her to be nothing less than a kindred spirit and an inspiring example.

Dolls and books, friends and flowers — sounds pretty typical for me, maybe. But no, each encounter has been a unique anP1110327d new treat. I guess I couldn’t tell you about all of the things I’m thankful for recently, or I’d be writing all day to do them justice. And I like to take some time to browse the good things in other blogs, too.

Which reminds me: I’m pretty sure there are people reading my blog who never comment, and maybe some of you have your own blogs that I don’t know about? If so, please tell me sometime! And to everyone: May your week be full of pleasant encounters with unique gifts.

What We Found in the Grass

I’m at my daughter Pippin’s home in the Northern California forest, getting ready for the arrival of Baby. While we’re waiting we’ve been taking lots of walks, including some similar to what I enjoyed three years ago when I reported in Meadow and Trees.

When I am walking with Pippin it often happens that she scoops something from the trail and drops it into my hand. A baby pine cone from a Ponderosa, or a feather that has fallen from a red-shafted flicker.

She will stop suddenly in the middle of the meadow because she spies a praying mantis in the grass. By comparison with her, I am blind. But once she takes a picture of something, I know that I want to take its picture too.

I snapped photos of bear scat and raccoon tracks, wild rose hips and an unknown feathery plant that grows in swaths, especially near the edge of the forest. I soaked up the scents of pine and grasses that were rising in the summer heat.

after the bear feasted on manzanita berries….
feathery plant

Pippin and I helped each other provide shade if needed in order to get better lighting on the little purple thistles that were in full sun under a blue September sky.

We kneeled down to do a serious photo shoot of the mantis and I attempted a movie to catch him moving his small head this way and that.

(Pippin Photo)
a non-stubby thistle

There are places where the dried-up meadow is sparse with stubby weeds and tiny stickers that get into my socks. I try to ignore the prickles because it’s no fun stopping for them every few minutes.

Our swish-swish through the grass is accompanied by the gentle clicks of sprays of tiny grasshoppers jumping every which way out of our way. Some of them crash against my chest.

After a while we get to a wetter area where the water sits longer in the spring. Now in late summer some of the swampy areas have dried up, and the algae has become a papery brown layer that stays at its previous level when it was a blanket floating on mountain runoff.

Blades of green marshy grass stick up through it like toothpicks holding it well above the current ground level, and lots more pale dead grass lies flattened  where the snow has weighed it down through many winters. As we tromped along, our boots breaking through the paper made a noise such as you might hear when marching through large cornflakes. Tiny frogs hopped out of our path and escaped being crunched.


An apparently man-made channel runs on one side of the meadow and keeps the creek water from spreading out and making the entire area into a marsh. A solitary duck paddled fast into the reeds when we came near, where pennyroyal grew on the banks and long runners of wild raspberry snaked along the ground.

In addition to my camera loaded with pictures (even slanty ones like that below) I brought home the tiny cones, the feather, my weary feet and a warm peacefulness.