Sunday, July 5, 2020

Day Lilies and Deer

Day Lilies and Deer

There was a visitor to our neighbor’s front yard the other day. A deer was enjoying the daylilies that greeted visitors to their front entrance. It was munching away peacefully and only looked up occasionally to check out its surroundings.

This wasn’t the first deer that has visited our street. We occasionally see one behind our house enjoying the flowers that pop up each spring. Sometimes there will be several deer walking from backyard to backyard, snacking on the plantings along the way. I think they come from a township set-aside nature path about half a mile away.

Wild animals seem to be getting more used to people around here. Years ago the deer would spring off if they saw a person anywhere nearby but now they just watch to see if there is any danger and then continue eating. I do qi gong exercises out back and have noticed a rabbit watching while it munches but it doesn’t dart away.

We chatted with our neighbor as we watched the deer enjoying its treat and when it darted off, we felt we had experienced something special. It’s nice to know that we can coexist peacefully with other beings. I hope we can remember that it is also possible to interact peacefully, to respect and value each other, and to remind ourselves that we all share this incredible earth.

About day lilies:

Monday, June 22, 2020

Our Country's Cactus

Our Country’s Cactus

Tucked away on the side of my house are some small cactus plants. They are normally fairly unobtrusive but when they put out their flowers, they are hard to ignore. The buds are big and the flowers are exuberant. I look forward to seeing them each summer.

There are things to consider, however. A cactus plant has spines.  Spines can be stiff, hard,  or soft. They may be long or short. The spines on my cactus are so thin they can be ignored when I weed around the flowers. But they can’t be ignored for long. They push in under the skin and are uncomfortable reminders of not being careful in the garden. They cause sharp hints of pain until they are removed.

This duality of beauty and pain is a reminder to me of what is going on nowadays. Underneath the beauty of our country lie the spines that effect so many of us. The pain caused by conquering, slavery, exclusion, and racism that has resurfaced in recent times all over America has been in us from the beginning but we haven’t been addressing the causes – until now.

I hope that we are finally becoming able to appreciate our incredible diversity, to value the beauty that all people bring and to take out the spines that discrimination has implanted in our country’s body. Only then will we be able to truly appreciate our amazing American garden.

My cactus – the Eastern Prickly Pear:

Monday, June 8, 2020

The Hibiscus Family Tree

The Hibiscus Family Tree

Each year the hibiscus plants in our yard seem to be finished. Other flowers come and go and still, no hint of the hibiscus coming back. And then…

The leaves start to pop up from the seemingly non-fertile earth. And once they do, the plants are on their way to growing the most amazing blossoms!

The brittle, white stems from last year’s plants provided good roosts for the birds who came to drink at the bird bath in the winter months. They also had an artistic appeal as they reached out and up in their irregular formations. But now, I’m suddenly aware of a deeper picture. They seem to be embracing the upcoming growth, like the older generation supporting the younger ones coming into the family. There will come a time when the new flowers will burst forth and the brittle branches will snap off but the family connection remains.  

At this time, it is important to remember that we are part of a larger family connection. Yes, people are diverse in many ways but share our human heritage. And even when times seem bleak, let’s try to remember that like the hibiscus we can, we will, blossom again.

The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Hibiscus:

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Puzzling Times

Puzzling Times

I love to travel. There are so many places in this world that are amazing. Nature offers a look at different plants and animals, birds and landscapes. And there are so many people to connect with who are willing to share their lives and perspectives. I see the whole world as part of Ferida’s Backyard, a place to explore and enjoy.

Unfortunately, foreign travel is not an option right now. We are mostly staying at home, though we have discovered an interesting diversion; we occasionally drive around local areas that we haven’t been to. We stay in our car and explore housing developments, farmlands, small town centers. We often come upon nature paths that one day we will go back to.

Meanwhile, I am into jigsaw puzzles. This one keeps me hopeful that I will one day be able to travel again. It is called “Safe Travels” (Masterpieces Puzzle Co.) and it reminds me of what traveling is all about. It shows snippets of other countries and their residents, some foreign currency, photos that were taken, a journal, and other travel details. It isn’t an easy puzzle but its 1,000 pieces provide a meditative process that helps me focus on the now and not obsess on the “what’s next?” 

I hope I get to travel soon again but meanwhile, I am peaceful where I am and hope you are, too.

Puzzles are beneficial for many things:

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Blond-tailed Squirrels

Blond-tailed Squirrels

A squirrel was munching its way through the afternoon. It wasn’t an unusual sight, squirrels seem to be everywhere. But this one was different – it had a blond tail! I never saw that before. It reminded me of the time I noticed a squirrel with a white spot behind one of its ears. The next spring there were several with that spot and then some showed up with the white spot behind both ears! I still see them occasionally. As I was watching this unusual squirrel, another blond-tailed squirrel joined in the feast.

It’s easy to think of squirrels in the singular but there are many varieties and lots of colors, from albino white to deep black and everything in between. And their tails offer options as well.  I suspect that these blond-tailed squirrels will produce another wave of variety to grace my backyard; I will look out for them. 

Nature is always interesting. Whether it’s animals, birds, insects or plants, no two are exactly the same. Alike, yes, but there are always differences if we truly observe. And like people, each has its own way of interacting on our incredible Earth. Diversity is what makes life so intriguing. I hope we can remember that our individuality is vital to the greater whole and use it wisely.

Learn about squirrels:

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Box Turtle Surprise Again

Box Turtle Surprise Again

Look who was taking a walk on the path at Barclay Farmstead in Cherry Hill, N.J. It stopped me in my tracks on my own walk through the Nature Preserve. What a beautiful shell. I bent down to better see it but the turtle took exception to my curiosity and pulled its head and feet into its shell. I said quietly that it needn’t be afraid, I wouldn’t hurt it. It peeked out at me and I couldn’t help smiling  at the quizzical look in its eyes.

It reminded me of other box turtles that have crossed my path. One was crossing a busy street in front of me as I was driving to my son’s preschool. I stopped, carefully lifted it up and drove it to his school. It had a weeklong visit with the children then was released at the teacher’s farmstead. Another time a turtle was starting to cross a street in a housing development in front of my car.  I gently placed it in the wooded lot across the way. And there were others, always to my delight.  

Turtles have been seen as mystical creatures. Folklore says that they are a symbol of longevity and bring good luck. I feel grateful when I encounter this unexpected gift of nature. It stops me in my distracted thoughts and helps me focus on the here and now.

I took a deep breath and thanked the turtle for being there. Then we both continued on our nature walks.

Facts about the Eastern Box Turtle: