About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Squash Bug Eggs

Squash Bug Eggs

Squash bug nymph
I was in the garden all morning scrapping the eggs of squash bugs off my pumpkin, cucumber, and water melon leaves with my fingernail. I have found that the easiest solution to a squash bug problem is to eliminate their eggs as soon as possible. The eggs are most often found on the underside of the leaf, in clusters along the leaf's veins. Today the light grey nymphs were beginning to emerge. I also spotted a few adults mating. So I tried my best to get every last egg.
I hate killing in general. Even while pulling the eggs, I know there is potential for life in each one, yet to allow them to live would be to allow the squash plants to die. Both adult and nymph bugs will suck nutrients from my plants and could kills off my crops. If this garden were my only means to feed my family, it would be a life or death struggle, it would be a battle of the fittest. Gardening is unlike forestry. There is a balance, but it is also a battle ground.
Adult squash bugs mating
Recently, I got a fantastic picture book for my son from the library called, "Whose Garden Is It?" by Mary Ann Hoberman. In the book, despite the statement by the gardener, "This garden is mine..." every mammal, reptile, bird, and bug claims that the garden is their own. Even the weeds, trees, and plants argue who is more important. By the end, the rain, sun, and soil put in their opinions in as well. Alas, the garden is not mine anymore than the land is mine. I happily share this little patch of earth with the birds, butterflies, and wasps, which all have something to give and something to take. The some birds steal my sunflower seeds but they also eat pests, the butterflies have caterpillars who damage some of my plants but pollinate others, and the wasps make me fearful of a sting but they eat caterpillars or spiders.
 However, when it comes to (literally) thousands of squash bugs, who offer only devastation, something has to give.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tarantula Hawk

 Tarantula Hawks are the largest wasps in the world. This one was about two inches long. These wasps sting and paralyze tarantulas.  Then they drag the huge spider back to their underground nest and lay a single egg on the spider. When the egg hatches, the wasp larva eats its way into the spider's body cavity, carfully avoiding its vital organs so that the spider doesn't die and stays fresh. They are not agressive; however, it is said that the sting is the most intense pain ever felt! Luckily it only last a few minutes.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Autumn Leaves in June

The leaves make me sad, as they fall from trees in June.
But the children enjoy collecting yellow and red shapes for art projects.
The river level depresses me, as springs run dry.
But the children enjoy snokling in the shallow rapids and pools.
I am fearful of the future while we walk in the woods and find few insects.
But the children are delighted that they have not been biten by a tick.
I am envious of thier happiness and annoyed by my knowledge
They are envious of my knowledge and oblivious of their joy

Looking at these fallen leaves
Gazing at these dying trees

Digging in the lifeless dirt
Feeling all the pain and hurt

Gathering clouds that sprinkle rain about
Finding a bloom, a joyful sprout

Stumbling upon a chirping bird
Singing the prettiest song I've heard

Passion Flower

Nighthawk (Whip-poor-will)