Life as a Butterfly

>> Friday, July 24, 2009

Several weeks ago I purchased a rather pitiful looking passionflower vine with the hopes of attracting butterflies. And to paraphrase the movie line, "if you plant it they will come". This week I have had the pleasure of watching the life cycle of the Fritillary.

I first noticed the larvae, but then found eggs, too. It amazes me that something that starts out so insignificantly small, turns into a fiercely determined caterpillar. These guys have one mission and that is to eat quickly and continuously.

Eric Carle nailed it in his book The Hungry Caterpillar.

After all that feasting, it is time for a nap.

And then, Voila!

All of this activity has been going on in the garden in just one week. This process has to be fast because the average lifespan of a butterfly is one month. Yes, one month. They experience birth, mating, and death all in a matter of days.

And this got me thinking. What would my life look like with a lifespan of only a month? Now this isn't the same question as "what if you only had a month to live?" That question presumes that the timetable starts from where you are at the moment the question is asked. But, a total lifespan of a month really throws things into high gear.

Humans are unique in the animal world for a lot of reasons. One is that we have the luxury of time. Time to learn, to experiment, to make mistakes, to reinvent ourselves. The luxury of time takes away urgency and, possibly, our inclination to value each moment.

So, one month, one year, or fifty one, whatever I am blessed with will be filled with "noticed" moments. No more overlooking because I think tomorrow will be filled with more of the same. Tomorrow is never the same.


Figs, Feathers, and Fur

>> Tuesday, July 21, 2009

OK, OK, Uncle! I give up, I surrender.

Each summer I hungrily anticipate the first fig harvest from the garden. I had especially high hopes this year, thanks to my rabbits and their prodigious fertilizer supply. So, as the first fruits began to ripen, I did what I do every the birds and squirrels arrive with all of their relatives to feast on the fruits of my labor.

A vow was made that this year would be different. I declared war. I scaled brick walls, precariously perched ladders, and wobbly chairs to spread three sheets of bird netting over the fig tree. I felt confident, almost arrogant, that this summer I would be the one feasting.

But, alas, two days later I realized that me and my nets were greatly outnumbered and outmaneuvered. The nets were pulled down and ripped up. Partially eaten figs were strewn around the ground. But, I persevered. Out came a big yellow balloon thingy with big black circles that are suppose to look like eyes and scare the critters away. They were not impressed. Then the scarecrow was added. I even perched it atop a trellis railing so that it would be at tree top level. Again, nothing. So, I give up.

Now any gardener knows that when you plant crops, you should plant enough to "share" with the outdoor residents. And I'm OK with that. Really. But, when are the other guys gonna get the memo? They don't seem very interested in sharing, unless you happen to be interested in half eaten fruit discarded on the ground.

And, that's another thing- they don't even finish eating one piece before they move on to another one. What's up with that? Oooops, here I go again........


Plants and Friends

>> Saturday, July 18, 2009

I've realized that there is a pretty good litmus test for determining lasting friendships. Say it is Saturday afternoon, 96 degrees out and you have a couple of hours to kill. If you're the one roaming the plant aisles at the local nursery with me, then I know you are in this for the long haul. That is how I spent this afternoon with my husband, a longtime friend, and a woman I met today. She passed the litmus test with high scores.

We went to one of my favorite haunts, the downtown Farmers Market. Rows of bedding plants provide a palette of colors that any artist would envy. Chartreuse coleus, shocking pink bougainvillea, and electric blue plumbago, all contribute to the sense of walking through a Monet landscape. And if that's not enough, you can stroll through the produce shed, sampling juicy slices of pale orange cantaloupe, deep red tomatoes and crunchy cucumbers.

Today's' bounty included local grown peaches, cherries, an ichiban eggplant transplant with six glorious purple blossoms, and a bougainvillea hanging basket. As we divided up the purchases to head home, I noted my new friend had more items than me and a smile on her face. Hence the high score on the litmus test.


Trying new things...

>> Thursday, July 16, 2009

Well, instead of asking my teenage son what a blog is, I decided to learn firsthand. This is my first entry into the blogosphere. My plan is to post my thoughts, experiences, questions, and general musings relating to my passion and my work, i.e. gardening. Hope someone out there might be interested, and if not, it will be a good mental exercise for this old mind of mine.



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