Thursday, November 11, 2021

Lots and Lots of Boxelders


                                            Lots and Lots of Boxelders

Everyone is worried about Lantern Flies and rightfully so. They come in large groups and destroy plants and trees. But there are other bugs that come in flocks. We have been having boxelders gathering at our front door this past week. It seems that the bugs like to find sun-warmed places to spend the winter and our front door and the east-facing side of our house welcome the warmth of the morning sun.

I can understand their motivation. As we open our front door, we are embraced by a delightful heat even when the outdoor temperature is cool. So I can’t blame the boxelders for congregating at this spot but I don’t want them here, either. 

They aren’t harmful to humans, yet having so many insects meet us at our door is not exactly a welcome greeting. They take winter refuge on boxelder and ash trees, which we don’t have, and maple trees, which we do. So we have started spraying them with diluted dish soap which was suggested instead of pesticides and we’ve noticed a slowing down of their invasion. I hope they will be gone soon. I hate to be so stern with Mother Nature but sometimes it’s necessary to balance how we live together.


A quick insight into boxelder bugs: 

Friday, October 29, 2021

Creepy Spider Webs

Creepy Spider Webs

Fall is making itself known. Pine cones are falling all over our backyard. The maple leaves dazzle us with their bright colors and then turn brown as they let go of their branches and cover our grass. Spiders seem to be having a field day making webs up against our garage, capturing food before the cold settles in.  

I usually sweep away the webs as they appear but what better time than Halloween to let them stay? They add an eerie ambience to the front of our house which should offer a little creepiness to the trick-or-treaters coming on Sunday.

Creepy as they may be, spider webs are pretty amazing. They have an artistic quality about them, and a variety of purposes. Not only do they catch insects for food but they provide help for the spider to travel from one place to another, they protect a spider’s dwelling space and also provide safety for an egg sac.

I can appreciate a web’s value but I won’t be able to keep them around. After the holiday, whatever spiders have built the webs, I’m afraid they will have to find new places for them. Hopefully, not near my garage.

Some web facts:

More about why spiders spin webs – if you can bear to read further:

Monday, October 11, 2021


Corn Rows

I love sweet corn. I remember munching on the kernels when I was a kid and then sucking out the juicy sweetness left on the cob. It was one of my favorite things to eat.

During the growing season, fields are bursting with corn! New Jersey has lots of farms that grow corn. The stalks cover acres of fields but they only produce one or two cobs each so it’s understandable why so much land is needed.  

Now, traveling by local farms reminds me that Autumn is here. The cornstalks, so plentiful during growing season, are turning brown and wilting. Farmers are cutting them down, leaving the fields covered with the remains of summer’s corn crop. It’s nature’s reminder that all things flourish for a time and then release their energy. We need to enjoy life in its many forms while we can.

Lots of facts about corn:

Corn facts and activities for kids:


Thursday, September 9, 2021


Hurricane Ida

The cleanup from Hurricane Ida is underway. Residents of Lambertville, NJ, were putting out broken chairs and toys, damaged kitchen appliances, split tables, soaked mattresses, wooden slats from porches and shingles off houses. It wasn’t every house that experienced such devastation but enough to emphasize how strong the hurricane was.

Mullica Hill, NJ, was hit by an Ida-created tornedo that whipped through the town, causing houses and farms to be stripped or even flattened! Sometimes one side of a street was effected while the other side was left alone.  

Ida hit lots of places along the eastern coast hard and like all such storms, it was erratic. Some towns were flooded, others just wet from the rain. We were lucky in our area. There were downed trees but nothing disastrous.

Climate change is definitely happening. What we need now is a new way to look at our environment. Perhaps by changing our interference with nature we can modify the strength and number of storms in the future.

Climate change and hurricanes:

Friday, August 13, 2021


Yellow Bird

There are many kinds of birds around our house – sparrows, crows, blackbirds, cardinals, pigeons, robins, chickadees and geese, just to name a few. They hang around our gardens, munching on seeds, and each time I open my front door I am greeted with the flapping of wings as sparrows vacate our front bushes. That’s usual. A few days ago, however, there was something not usual in our driveway; a brilliant, yellow canary was munching on a plant strip right outside our door.

I wondered where it came from. Did it escape from a cage in someone’s house? Was it a wild variation that flew in from somewhere else? I thought that I might offer it some food and shelter in case it was a loose house bird and unused to being outside but as soon as I took a tiny step forward, it yelled at me in bird talk and flew off.

I watched for it later that afternoon and the next day, hoping that if it had been a needy house bird it would find its way back for shelter. But I didn’t see it again. I hoped that it would be safe on its own. It was certainly a surprise to see a canary in the wild but also a joy that remains in my visual memory.

A canary is part of the finch family:

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

New Growth


I kept seeing what I thought was a dead tree on my walks through my community. The trunk and upper branches were severely cut and mostly bare. I wondered how long it would be before it would have to come done. Then something happened – it started to show new growth, with new bottom branches putting out lots of green leaves. It wasn’t done with its life yet.

The new growth was coming out just as the pandemic was easing. It seemed like a it was speaking to all of us. For the past year we have been huddled into ourselves, like the tree, but we were just waiting for enough of us to get vaccinated so that we could extend our activities, expand our personal connections, and get back out in the world.

I smile at the tree metaphor whenever I pass. I hope that it continues to flourish and show the world its power and beauty. And I wish the same for the rest of us, too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Colorful Spring


Colorful Spring

I love to browse in plant nurseries. There are so many flowers to discover. This spring I found a beautiful pink bush called Steffi Blush Pink Gaura. I never heard of that plant before so it was a treat to see. It blooms from early Spring through fall and grows to be mid-size bush, which is perfect for the space in our front yard.

Spring is such a grand time for awakening. It starts out kind of grumpy, not sure if it feels like leaving the hunkered-in days of winter, but then takes a deep breath and blossoms into color and growth and potential before summer settles things down.

Colorful plants have a way of brightening our day, even during this current time. Even a potted plant on a windowsill can encourage a smile. Thank you, Mother Nature, for helping us celebrate Mother’s Day 2021.

These are long-flowering perennials: