Categories
Life Nature

Weeds

It’s nice, having a backyard garden. We ate some of our tomatoes last night at dinner, and I’ve been adding kale to various recipes during the past few weeks (the only good kale is cooked kale). Watching the plants sprout and grow and offer their bounty is rewarding and fun.

The thing is, however, that the planned plants aren’t the only ones that grow in the garden. Left to its own devices, a bit of dirt, combined with some rain and sunshine, can quickly become a home for random stalks and leaves, bits of nature taking over the neatly-arranged rows and productive patterns.

And so, it is necessary to engage in the never-ending process of weeding.

Pull some here, pick a few there. Some days, the end result is a clean garden, nice and neat everywhere. Most days, it’s only a small patch, one area under control for the time being, soon to be back where it started but weed-free at the moment.

I confess to feeling a little guilty when pulling the weeds. They’re simply growing where nature planted them. I’m the one who’s ending their journey, telling them that they’re not worthy. And, I quite like some of them, especially those that flower and climb, offering bright cascades of green and lush tangles of color. They remind me to be humble, as they quietly grow without my involvement. I am an observer, a participant – not a creator.

In the garden, however, coexistence doesn’t work very well. The weeds use up the resources. They block the light and invade the space, preventing the vegetables from growing properly. If the goal is tomatoes and cucumbers and basil and peppers, there must be a choice. I must take action. The weeds must go.

Here’s to gardens and plants and the fine line between wild and free, planned and productive. May we all have the good fortune of enjoying the special things they each have to offer.

Categories
Animals Good Nature

Otters

This morning, right before I woke up, I was dreaming that I was in the water, surrounded by sea otters. They were floating all around me, quietly, on their backs. Nothing more, nothing else – we were all just floating there, together, gently bobbing in the waves.

I suspect I dreamed this dream because of an article I read yesterday about sea otter sleeping habits. Otters often sleep on land, but sometimes, they also sleep in the water, on their backs. When they do, they wrap themselves in kelp strands and (here’s the part that makes me go squeeeeee) hold hands with other otters. This keeps them together; they avoid drifting apart and away during their nap time.

My dream was very peaceful. Perhaps the next time I’m feeling anxious or concerned about something, I’ll try to remember the feeling of gently floating in the water with all the otters surrounding me; the calm quiet and soft knowledge that I was not alone, that I would not drift away.

Here’s to sea otters and their simple yet smart sleeping habits. And, here’s to tranquil dreams of bobbing waves and feelings of warm, connected togetherness.

Categories
Life Nature

Bounty

“For ourselves, who are ordinary men and women, let us return thanks to Nature for her bounty by using every one of the senses she has given us.” – Virginia Woolf

Categories
Life Nature

600

Yesterday, I read an article about Greenland Sharks.

Apparently, Greenland Sharks can live a very, very long time. Hundreds of years, in fact. Researchers have discovered one shark that they estimate is 600 years old. They’ve found others that appear to be in the 200 and 300 year-old range.

There’s no definite conclusion as to why Greenland Sharks have such longevity. It’s likely that their habitat, cold and deep water, plays a factor. But there’s obviously more at play, something in their genetic makeup that influences their lifespan.

Just as humans have a natural expiration date genetically codified in our DNA, Greenland Sharks are pre-programmed to survive to a specific range of years. Real-world living and medical circumstances can affect the actual lifespan, of course; there’s no guarantee of reaching a certain age. Assuming good health and safety, however, most humans can expect a lifetime of between 70-90 years. And, it seems, most Greenland Sharks can expect a lifetime of centuries.

During the past 600 years, humans have formed countries, invented automobiles and airplanes and spaceships, discovered cures for illnesses, and learned how to preserve an image of a moment in time and then send it to millions of other people with a simple click of a button.

I’m haunted by the thought of sharks swimming unceasingly through the deep, dark, cold water while all of this happened on the land above them. I’m also a tiny bit jealous of these sharks. I don’t want to be a Greenland Shark, but it would be nice to have the potential to live as long as they do.

That’s not the way things work, however. So, instead of focusing on the question of why humans don’t also get 600 years, I’ll be grateful for the ones I’ve had. And, I’ll do my best to make the most of the years, however many they are, that are (hopefully) left ahead of me.

Categories
Life Nature

Almonds

Not long ago, we experienced some bizarre winter weather where I live – heavy snow and freezing temperatures that went on for the better part of a week. An unexpected outcome of that situation is that some of the plants and trees that don’t typically thrive in this area are now…thriving.

For example, we have an almond tree in our backyard. I didn’t know it was an almond tree, however, because it had never produced almonds.

A few years ago, during the spring blooming season, I thought it might be a peach tree. But after some research, I realized it’s an almond tree. I also resigned myself to the fact that it would be an almond tree in name only. We don’t usually have the type of sustained freezing cold weather that is necessary for almond production.

So you can imagine my happy surprise when I discovered that, this year, the tree is bursting with almonds. There are so many that some of the branches have started to dip from the weight. The limbs hang over part of our garden, creating a concentrated spot of shady coolness.

It’s likely that the almonds won’t be ready to harvest until August or September. Between the summer heat and the scurry of squirrels living in my backyard trees, I’m a bit concerned about how things will ultimately turn out. Hopefully, there will be a positive ending to this adventure. In the meantime, it’s fun to watch the almonds grow.

Here’s to Mother Nature. She sure knows how to keep things interesting.

Categories
Good Nature

Beauty

It might end up being the only strawberry from this year’s backyard garden. Or else it could be the first of many.

Either way, it’s a beauty.

Here’s to early morning gifts and gardening achievements.

Categories
Animals Nature

Thief

We’ve been robbed.

There were two strawberries in our garden, almost ready for picking. Now, there is only one.

I suspect that the culprit has brown fur and a bushy tail and lives in the trees surrounding our house. I also suspect that he’ll be back for the one he left behind.

It’s a bit disappointing not to be able to enjoy the fruit that’s grown in our backyard, but I’ll get over it. I simply can’t stay mad when cute and clever animals are involved.

I do hope he leaves our grapes alone, however. We have plenty of kale; he can have that instead.

Categories
Good Nature People

Treasure

Yesterday, I came across a story about a woman, Flora Blathwayt, who collects bits of plastic trash from the banks of the River Thames and various beaches in England. She cleans the trash thoroughly and then adds it in creative ways to greeting cards that she’s designed. On the back of each card she creates, she lists the location where the plastic was found.

Ms. Blathwayt’s hobby has turned into a business, Washed Up Cards. Her business has sustained her, emotionally and financially, during a furlough from her job.

She’s not just using her skills and imagination to make money, however. She’s also bringing awareness to the issue of plastic waste in rivers and oceans. She’s supporting the sustainability movement and it, in turn, is supporting her.

To learn more about Washed Up Cards, you can visit her Etsy site at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/washedupcards/ .

Here’s to those, like Flora Blathwayt, who use their creative talents to turn trash into treasure. They help to make the world a better place, one small bit at a time.

Categories
Life Nature

Patience

Today’s cuppa reminds me to be patient.

Patience is not one of my strengths, but like most grownups, I’ve taught myself to act patiently in situations that require restraint and self-control. I stand quietly in lines, accept the reality of traffic, and allow for the fact that things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, I whine and complain and huff and puff, but most of the time, I’ve learned to manage my feelings and behave myself.

Growing a backyard garden is testing me, however.

The weather has been amazingly perfect, and our plants are thriving. We have teeny-tiny tomatoes, and zucchini, and cucumbers. We have four itty-bitty grape clusters and six or seven blackberries sprouting on their vines. There’s one strawberry shifting in color from green to red and several others that are not quite there but will be soon. The kale plants are enormous, and the pepper plants are blooming, promising a bumper crop.

Every morning, and several more times throughout the day, I inspect the garden. Seeing the baby fruits and veggies is thrilling. But then, my impatience takes over, and I lament the fact that it’s taking so long for everything to grow.

The plants are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, of course. The growing timetable is right on track. It’s my frustration that’s the problem.

Impatience isn’t helpful; eagerness isn’t an effective fertilizer. And so, I do my best to focus on the fun of watching the progress, slow as it is, and celebrate each milestone. Soon enough, we’ll have a full-grown bounty. In the meantime, each day is an opportunity to enjoy the experience.

I’ll admit, however, that I sometimes whisper, “Hurry up, we’re waiting” to the leafy, blooming stalks and vines. I don’t want them to assume they have all the control in this situation. Somebody’s got to remind them that this is a group project.

Here’s to patience and to the rewards that come from giving things time to become what they’re meant to be.

Categories
Animals Fun Nature

Scurry

Yesterday, as I was watching the antics of a group of squirrels that live in our backyard trees, I realized that I didn’t know what to call them in their collective state. So, I looked it up.

A group of squirrels is called a “scurry.” Based on the way the squirrels in my yard were acting, this is an apt description.

After that, I became curious about the collective names for other groups of animals, birds, and bugs. So, I did some more investigating and found some delightful and amusing descriptions. These are a few of my favorites: A group of giraffes is a tower. A group of jellyfish is a smack. Zebras in a pack are called a zeal. And, a collection of ladybugs is called a loveliness.

Here’s to the fun of language and to watching the scurry of furry tree rodents that live in my backyard.