I thought we had snuck by this year; that the yummy plants that attract the Japanese beetles would be spared. Then I saw them, a pair here, a pair there. Not the orgy of colorful shiny creatures I saw the first time they came. And I mean orgy. It seemed every one of them was pair up and stacked up. This year, I thought with relief, there were fewer, and concentrated only on one of their favorite plants.
But I was wrong.
When I first saw this beetle, I was amazed at the beauty of it--the iridescent metallic colors and the graceful shape. So stunning, reflecting the light into my eyes in shades of turquoise, gold, and rust. And the numbers were amazing. But they are hungry little buggers. And every time I thought they were done and gone I would find another handful, chomping away on my flowering quinces and the cherry tree. This morning, I found evidence of their activity on the peach tree.
I have also come to learn that they are producing damage to the lawn area, as their larvae overwinter underground, then chomp on the roots of the grass. And here we were blaming the exuberant dogs that would run and skid, kicking up divots in the meadow.
But the large bald spots could not have developed from a divot here and there. I declare the canines innocent and j'acuse the Japanese beetle.
It's time for war! These critters can no longer get by in my garden merely by their good looks!
No garden is an island. Most days I walk the neighborhood before my work day, and Dog and I sniff out the changes--visitors, neighbors, and the general state of the environs. Sometimes I have already heard the equipment, heavy or otherwise, altering the landscape, natural or man-made.
We are nestled in the woods, all of us here in this neighborhood. It is a forest in transition, having once been farmland, it is now moving from "junk" species to hardwood, and the species in the stories--ground, mid, and upper--actually illustrate the transition, with the tall loblolly pines having been the first to break ground in the farmland. One day they will be no more, and the hardwood will reign supreme. However, according to our local forester, we will not be around to see the day, and there is nothing we can do to speed it up.
But I would think there are ways to slow it down, and Dog and I encountered one this spring in several places. The earthmovers had come in, leaving behind a large gash in the earth, overturned greenery, and deep tread marks. It's a disturbance in the forest.
Contrary to common assumption and concern, I am one that is ok with that. We the people are a part of the environment, and while we are tasked with being stewards of the land and all that is provided us, we cannot help but have an impact. The only question is where the line between a positive and a negative impact might be.
So my response to the disturbance in the forest is more one of curiosity--with these changes what will I witness as time goes on? What transitions will the land go through that I can observe over the next months and years? Will loblollies recolonize? Or can the area go straight to hardwood, passing only through those herbaceous pioneers that we often categorize as weeds.
One of the best and hardest things in life is witnessing and taking in change. We can resist, accept or embrace it. Sometimes we just curiously watch it happen.
No photo today. I feel a bit wimpy about this topic, but I find I don't know what to think about it. Advice led me to purchase some bird netting to protect my blueberry bushes, as they are coming into fruit. When we came back from a five day trip, I had caught a black snake.
It wasn't just caught. It was wrapped and snagged and twisted. And dead. It must have struggled so valiantly and then, adding insult to injury, something came along and ate off its head.
I apologized multiple times as I clipped it out of the deadly trap, losing half my netting and unable to unwind any from the snake's body, my imagination showing me the snake's last moments, the agony and confusion. I know I am anthropomorphizing, but I have to judge this occurrence as dreadful. Sometimes a snake in the garden is innocent.
But the garden no longer is. The netting brought death within its borders and tainted my fantasy imagery of the space. Of course, this blog IS about "A relationship with the beautiful, the tough, the frustrating, the fruitful and the barren, dusty places..." Right? I will have to file this under "tough." Tough for me. Toughest for the snake.
I have removed all the netting. For some reason most of the blueberries are gone now anyway. Some sort of cosmic recompense, I suppose.
We returned from a short time away to find the gardenia bushes in full bloom. These are the only blossoms I will cut to bring inside. The house is filled with their fragrance but, more dramatically, is the garden.
I have mentioned that time away from the garden sets me way back in terms of keeping out the uninvited botanical guests. Most times I return to a sense of dismay, as I realize the work set before me.
This time, the first morning back, I walked into the garden, weeding tool in hand, and stopped to deeply breathe in the indescribable pleasure of the scent of gardenia. And I stayed put and worked in the garden for so much longer than I intended. Accomplishing one task, I cast about for another. I did not want to leave, knowing that in a few days, and not much more, the gardenia blossoms would retreat, and I would not be working in the middle of the divine fragrance for another whole year.
I'm sorry, but I have to spiritualize this. How much more joy, energy and perseverance can one have when we work within the fragrance. How much more delight, no matter how arduous the task, if we can simultaneously breathe in the beauty of our Creator God.
I imagine the priests working at the temple, and the delicious aroma of roasting meat, the promise of sustenance creating a hunger in the midst of worship. And I imagine the priests in the holy place, breathing in the holy incense, nowhere else to be replicated, the uniqueness underscoring the terrible awesomeness of the place in which they stood.
The presence of God, invisible, majestic, is like a fragrance which draws our attention Him-ward. In Him we live and move and have our being. How much more sweet and sustaining for us if we recognize His presence and breathe deeply of Him. How much lighter our yoke, and smoother our task, when we recognize God's presence and enjoy His Holy fragrance.