It feels as if the world has tossed herself up into the air, fracturing into billions of intricate puzzle pieces, all of which are now drifting down among us, asking to be recast into a new picture.
Amidst all the upheaval of Covid 19 and the BLM protests, I have had some upheaval of my own. While it sometimes feels icky, upheaval is always for the best in the end, I say…
I’ve decided to restructure some priorities, and so I am creating my own new life puzzle of many, many pieces. Bees have been front and center in my life as I’ve dedicated the past decade to knowing them better. But now I am comfortable with bees and with what I know of them, so I’m aiming some of my time to different arenas, and this is why:
The other night, as I was about to drift off to sleep, I had this thought, “If you were not to awaken in the morning, what regrets would you have, if any?”
And instantly I knew, “I would regret not having written more…”
So, there you have it. I need to write more. And so I will be returning, happily, to this blog to deepen our conversation into Wonder. And here is my first missive to that topic:
Many of you who have been coming to this site over the years are keenly aware of my love-affair with frogs. For years, in more than three different houses, I’ve kept some version of a pond. Sometimes, it’s just a hole in the ground lined with plastic, sometimes it’s an old stock tank, and most recently, it is an old claw-foot bathtub.
The tub is outfitted with a pump and small waterfall, and in it sits a curly willow tree in a big bucket. Each spring, I go to local bogs and bring back greenery for the tub, for insects to land on as they drink. I stopped cleaning out all the gunk in the bottom, as over the years it has become host to thousands of tiny insects and flukes and is its own nation of sorts.
I have one large trap-door snail in the tub that I found at a local lake. She keeps the whole tub algae-free. Many summer evenings now, the tub serves as a pool to a raccoon who visits several times a week. I can hear her out there, splashing, but have never grabbed a light to see her. I don’t want to disrupt her fun!
This is the first home I’ve lived in since graduating from high school where I’ve spent more than four years. I’ve been a gypsy all my adult life, hurrying on to new places and new dreams before the asparagus beds are mature enough for picking. But we’ve been at MillHaven for a decade now. For the first time, I’m seeing all my garden plants mature. I’m watching the changes in the seasons as climate change shifts everything. I’m here for the good growing years when the raspberries are so plentiful we have lots stored for winter. And I’m here for those years when a handful of blueberries is all the bounty we get.
And so with this new long view of life from this place, I’ve seen how slow the creatures in the yard have been to accept the bathtub pond as part of their habitat. For the first few years, peeper frogs sang near the pond but never seemed to go into it. Then, about three years ago, I would see the peepers in the pond at night during their winter/spring mating times.
If I snuck out after dark and was very quiet, and my flashlight very bright, I could catch the sight of the spring peepers floating like inflated inner tubes on the surface of the tub, singing for mates. Then, last summer—lo and behold!—I found tiny egg masses in the tub, and pollywogs soon followed. The frogs had decided after many years that the tub was acceptable to them!
But my joy was short-lived. Other creatures had also decided that the tub would be a good place to raise a family. Dragon fly nymphs now scuttle about the bottom of the tub, and they are fierce predators. The pollywogs were like a buffet for the hungry nymphs, and soon there were none remaining. The nymphs, however, remain. Dragon flies live the bulk of their lives as nymphs, only getting to enjoy life as arial angels for about two months.
This year, the frogs were extraordinarily fecund, and kept up the egg laying all through June. By this time, I’ve made friends with my two large nymphs that have overwintered in the tub for two years now. I love them, but I love my frogs, too, so I created a plan for a pollywog nursery where I could place all those egg casings in safety. I filled a small kiddie wading pool with water, stones, and lots of branches of leaves.
When the eggs began coming, I gathered them each day with a tiny net and moved them to the nursery. Because there were no fish or nymphs, the tadpoles would be safe there. But the nursery quickly became a breeding ground for mosquitoes. With no fish or nymphs, the mosquitos proliferated right along with the tadpoles (which do not eat mosquito larva).
For weeks, I tended to the pollywogs, riddled with guilt at the mosquito breeding den I’d created. But my passion for frogs outweighed my fears of West Nile Virus. I pushed on. The tadpoles began growing legs, and new egg casings were still coming on.
As the weeks passed, I began telling myself that the drop I was seeing in mosquito larva was no-doubt due to my wishful thinking. But it was real. There really were less of them. A lot less.
One afternoon a few days ago, I was sitting by the tadpole nursery, just watching their fat bodies roll in circles on the surface of the water in delight at my daily sprinkling of gold fish food. The sun shone down on the water, making everything clear and sparkling. My eye caught movement, and I leaned forward, my nose just a few inches from the water surface. I gasped as I saw literally thousands of tiny, tiny insects darting in the water.
They were only the size of a pinprick, but even at that, they were familiar to me. I knew these as diving beetles—creatures that look like a tiny cigar with two paddle legs. I watched them for a long time, marveling how they filled up the kiddie pool from bottom to surface, and patting myself on the back for even seeing them at all.
I’m so grateful to these beetles who saw a need and filled it! Diving beetles are voracious predators, and even their larva eat mosquito larva! But these cute red beetles haven’t just saved my pond from being an ecological disaster zone. The beetles provided me with a lesson I needed to learn very much right now.
In these times particularly, we are all being asked to “do something.” Protest. Read books on racism. Vote. March. Wear masks. Distance. Keep informed. I’m a can-do sort of gal, and very inclined to dive in and do something—anything—to help “fix things.” But I often move too quickly, not allowing things to develop and to simply evolve into the next stage of being. And I also have a habit of believing that I need to do whatever needs doing, because no one else will. Quite simply, I don’t trust the world to take care of itself.
And yet the mosquito issue has resolved itself in my yard with no “doings” on my part. Evidently—knock me over with a feather—the world often can just take care of herself. Earth has a fix for everything, I suppose, if we just let her apply it.
And perhaps my life, too, is far larger than it appears with grand solutions it will implement on its own if I give it just a bit more time and study. “Don’t push the river,” I’ve been told. “Go with the flow.” What does it take to cultivate such an attitude and live by its dictates? Trust. Just trust.
I sit next to the pollywog nursery, watching the beetles as they grow. “Please,” I say to them, “I’ll have another serving of that trust stuff you’ve got going in there…”