Blogging for the Environment
Yesterday the weather was so oddly pleasant (for October in the high desert) that I stepped away from the computer for a walk outside. I was motivated by the plethora of small boys in my house at the time (okay, it was only three, but three small boys equals an army as any parent knows). As I stepped onto the back porch I was aware that the air outside was the same temperature as inside, but much fresher and with that subtle autumnal tang to it, so I left the door open and fetched the compost bucket from the kitchen counter and a trowel from the table where my indoor plants live.
As I headed to the south wall of the house where my veggie beds are now mostly dormant (some weenie little leeks, lettuce gone to seed, Canadian strawberries that are taking over the yard and patches of thyme spreading like a virus), I found peas sprouting with more vigor than they showed in the spring and I had some fun crushing eggs shells and spreading them about. I dug a hole to bury the fresh kitchen waste and sifted dirt onto the reeking, slimy pile of apple peels, tea leaves, onion skins and other refuse. A lone paper wasp joined me, I think her sisters have mostly died off for the season and she was moving rather slowly herself. Perhaps she wanted company.
After the stinky part of the job was done I did a bit of watering. Our native soil is volcanic and fairly sterile, but after nearly 7 seasons of composting, the beds are quite delightful. Water retention is higher and the soil is quite fertile, as proven by the amount of seeds that sprout without any encouragement from me. Since I pit compost, I just plant over whichever pit is oldest and has space, or simply take advantage of whatever sprouts on its own from the rot of last year's harvest.
I Picked up my compost bucket and trowel, rolled up the hose and prepared to engage the boy-army again. As I turned to head up the porch steps I saw something flying toward me. It landed on the grass and I could see it was a beautiful, pale green praying mantis, about 2.5 inches long. The coloring was perfect to blend with the lawn, but more than that were the variations of red, green and yellow that had a wonderfully relaxing effect on my eyes. I mean, red? Why red? but it worked. They play of light on grass causes shadows and other effects we don't see because we rarely look at an individual blade of grass. We look at a lawn and expect it to be GREEN and nothing else, but it is quite colorful, actually.
We stared at each other for a minute or so, and it never flinched when I lay down on the grass near it. I was aware of the different smells of grass, soil, freshness and decay, and how they differed from the smells of summer. The mantis had enough of me and took off for the yard next door. Time for me to go back in.
Today it's overcast and dreary, but feels fine for October. Time to rest up a bit. Snow will come and if there's a decent freeze this year it might kill off some of the aphids this time. Last summer the bf and I fed aphids to our herds of ladybugs and must have looked like little kids playing with bugs, but the real kids in the house couldn't be bothered to join us. A few weeks later they did help hunt down ladybug larvae and find patches of surviving aphids to feed to them, so there is hope for them yet.
It's such a small yard, but everything in it tells a story. Maybe I'll share a few more another time.