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Nature and Environment

News about the health and beauty of the natural world that sustains us.

Finding Solace in the Garden

After a week fraught with hatred, violence, sadness, and wondering where on earth society might be heading and before a week that promises to be at the very least full of jaw-dropping wonder at the diversity that can occur among a single species (let the conventions begin — along with the next Village Council meeting), I had a very special, lovely, wonderful day.

It began with my daily weeding while communing with the wildlife. I dearly love my early morning, meditative sessions. While I’m still much better at identifying our birds by sight, I love hearing so many different voices singing as I work. Many I can easily identify — cardinals, catbirds, woodpeckers, finches, and robins — but, there are still several I need to suss out and learn so I know who I’m chirping back to.

Garden Visitors

As I took a break on one of the newly reclaimed Sacred Fire Circle benches, camera in hand in case I might grab a photo of some of those birds, I noticed what seemed to me to be a baby hummingbird supping at the bee balm. I had already missed an opportunity to capture a decent shot of one of my goldfinch pairs so I was determined to try to grab a photo of this wee one.

I slowly got up and approached the monarda (bee balm), watching the animal continuously hovering at each flower around the blossom. The closer I moved, the more I could discern that it had characteristics more consistent with a moth than a bird. I noted antennae, sets of legs, and the lack of an obvious eye. It’s times like these that I have to restrain my excitement so that I don’t scare away the object of my learning. I snapped as many photos as I could before it moved away to another patch of nourishment.

I then headed inside to see about firming up plans to fetch some pacapoo (alpaca dung) from a nearby farm. A friend and neighbor had noticed the offer on Facebook and alerted me knowing I would probably be interested. Oh heck yeah, was I ever! I’ll almost always say yes to manure from local sources. In fact, I’d been eyeing a large pile of composted cow manure recently on one of my regularly traveled routes.

After putting the address in my phone, I loaded my truck (aka Gracie, my minivan) with buckets, gloves, a shovel, my ancient pitchfork, and off I went on another adventure with high hopes of adding a couple of buckets to my compost pile. I figured I would at least enjoy a brief country drive on roads I had yet to discover.

Alpaca Dung

My phone was flawless in its directions and I arrived at the farm 15 minutes later. Though there was no road sign, the street address matched up so I bravely drove up the driveway and parked. As I got out of my van, a woman emerged from the house. Her response to my query about whether this was the place with the alpaca composted manure posted on Facebook was a definite yes.

The next half hour was absolutely delightful. As Stephanie and her husband Scott helped me fill my buckets with both composted manure and some lovely fresh droppings, we chatted. What fun it was to discover that they also create their own cider, cyser, kraut, grow hops, and have an affinity and love for natural approaches to landscaping and living with the land.

While we were chatting, I happened to mention the odd little insect animal I’d just seen at home. Stephanie suggested that I check out hummingbird bees. I did just that later in the day. It turns out my newly classified family member is a Snowberry Clearwing Moth (aka hummingbird bee or hummingbird moth). You can be assured I’ll be looking more closely at my flowers from now on. I’ll also be researching this animal further since I have no doubt that it pupates in my honeysuckle. I’m curious to see if I come across the evidence. I always relocate my praying mantis egg sacks when I accidentally prune the limb they’re on, so I’ll want to be just as mindful if I run across these critters in other states of being.

I drove happily away from my morning adventure, sated and looking forward to getting better acquainted in the future while sharing recipes and more learning opportunities. For example, they have bees, and I want to learn more about bees. I would love to offer the bees who work my garden more shelter. I would absolutely adore it if I could use their honey in my mead-making. It would be such a wonderful circle—I plant the flowers, the bees drink the nectar and then produce the honey, I harvest the honey and create the mead, we put the waste from making the mead into the compost and drink the mead, the compost enhances the flowers that nourish the bees, and the circle is complete.

After unloading my 23 buckets of pacapoo and putting away my tools, I went inside for the day as it was already well on its way to a heat index in the high nineties. I don’t do outside work in the heat if at all possible.

The rest of my day was spent completing a healing doll for a dear friend dealing with some health issues. Look for an upcoming how-to blog post about creating healing dolls in the Native American tradition. As I worked, I shared time with my sweetie with a short break for eating and a phone call from our daughter.

Overall, what a great day it was! Working on the land, seeing one of my elusive goldfinch couples, discovering a new-to-me wildlife friend, having a mini-adventure and meeting new like-minded people, weaving together my healing energy work and arting, and sharing time with family. I’ll take it… any day of the week.

Blythe Pelham is an artist who aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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