Saturday, August 29, 2020

Highway in the Backyard

 We have a low deck, positioned about two to three feet off the uneven ground from whatever was left of backfill after our house was constructed, back in the early '70s.

It's a good deck, sturdy, painted and repainted many times over the years, with an oak tree towering over it at end, making it a lovely shaded haven even on the hottest summer day.

Underneath the deck, it's a different story. The soil seems hard and dry, with miscellaneous pieces of rock and broken concrete scattered where the view penetrates into the gloom. It's a mysterious, unknowable zone, I always thought.

The groundhog makes it home in a burrow there,it usually waddles in and out at various points around the deck. I had taken to spraying the entrance points with peppermint oil, hoping to discourage the groundhog from settling there, and potentially ravaging our garden.

Then, just a couple of days ago, on a cloudy cool afternoon, I saw a raccoon emerging from under the deck, padding away carefully at first, then going on a full fledged dash towards the neighbor's yard. What could it have been doing there? Acorns, I think, were the big attraction of the season.

Yesterday, the rabbit was back near the far end of the deck, close to where I had attempted to block an entrance with a flower pot. It scooted under the deck the moment the screen door squeaked as I opened it.

Same with a small set of chipmunks. 

So, there you have it- a critter highway under the deck, not burrows for the groundhog as I thought. This one plays host to a variety of creatures who visit it at various times of the year for food, shelter, or just as a convenient way to get somewhere without running into clueless humans.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Green Green, it’s green they say...

 "Green green, it's green they say
  On the far side of the hill.
Green green, I'm goin' away
Where the grass is greener still.."   (New Christy Minstrels, 1963)

  An old song that comes to mind from a chorus group that I sang with when I was in grade school. But this post isn’t really about the song, it’s just a catchy tune that ear wormed itself into my brain. 

First, the green worm. I was on my usual morning walk, pretty close to home when I saw this bright green charmer with two almost fluorescent yellow stripes on the back. I took the chance and bent down to take a short video of this little beauty, a cabbage worm that hopefully makes it to butterflyhood some day soon. It pushed determinedly along the road for some time, before moving to the grass. 

Then, there were the metallic green sweat bees or augochlorini, sparkling iridescent in the sunlight as they buzzed around the mint flowers in my garden. Tiny as they are, it’s fascinating to watch them as they industriously collect the nectar from the delicate lavender colored flowers.