Animals Garden

Season of Hope – the spring interplay of flora and fauna

Spring fuels the delusion that you can live in harmony without impacting anyone else, but the birds know better.

Spring, 2022. As per usual, all heaven and hell break loose, the forces of good and evil on full display—a riotous flush of weeds, flowers, and wildlife, vying for sunlight, breeding rights, and sustenance.

The azaleas burst open in early April, shortly after the daffodils.

Next come the irises. Now we have the three primary colors: blue, yellow, and red.

More yellow as the collards bolt. They’ve had enough of winter and are ready to concede to a new generation by putting forth seed. Rather than rip them out, we left them standing to feed a squadron of hungry spring bees.

Then the peonies in the third week of April, as per usual.

Meanwhile inside, our garden starts yearn to join the burgeoning riot. But we made them wait until we thought all danger of frost was behind us. Or mostly behind us. This year we played the odds and planted them out on April 11—a bit ahead of schedule—and bit our nails when the temperatures dipped a couple of weeks later.

We are in the midst of a renovation project to repair old water damage to our floors and including a complete overhaul of our master bathroom. Come to find out, there is only an inch or so of plywood between the bottom of my feet and an abyss.

Sculptured Pine Borer, Chalcophora virginiensis

I’m not sure whether this critter emerged from the abyss or made its way in from outside, but it was unusual and begged me to take a photo.

Bob’s beloved plant shelf is equally entertaining with a blooming venus flytrap clamoring for attention among the riot of African violets and orchids.

Back outdoors, the potatoes we planted on St. Patrick’s Day are coming along nicely.

As are the beets we planted last fall.

These are fava beans. We plant in the fall and harvest in the spring. Flowers mean bean pods will soon be setting on. They smell as pretty as they look.

A male cardinal clings to the white plastic window edging outside our bedroom window. He believes he has seen a rival, a cardinal that looks a lot like himself, someone who must be fought for the privilege of residing in his chosen locale. Someone who may try and breed the female cardinal he seeks to woo.

Day after day, the cardinal beat against the window, mussing up his feathers and leaving beak streaks across the glass. Hearing that a photo of a human might dissuade the bird, we taped one of Bob to the glass. It had no effect. The bird was just as determined to fight his rival to the death.

The red warrior eventually disappeared and we took down the picture. I have yet to wash the window, but have picked the pieces of broken plastic from the lawn. Someone said they’ll beat themselves to death and I wonder if that’s what finally made him stop.

We who grew up in the golden age of Disney’s Bambi and Snow White idolize nature. We like to think the animals wish each other the best and all get along. I catch myself wishing humans would learn to get along, too. I’m disappointed by human selfishness, war, and greed, and I cluck my tongue at underhanded politics that remind me of schoolyard bullying.

But it turns out animals are not as nice as I want to believe and humans are no more humane than the animals. I’d hoped for better, but there it is. We can be kind and selfless on occasion, but in general, as a species, we are not nice.

Oopsy, another bird doing its best to deter someone from passing along their DNA. This time it is a bluebird trying to oust a pair of nesting chickadees. Happily, the bluebird gave up and the chickadees hatched a brood of gape-mouthed nestlings.

Yet another bird, this one an eastern phoebe, sits atop its nest in our pole barn where we park our cars. One of its chicks begs for food at her feet. We love to watch them fly in and out, but do not love having to wash the bird shit from our cars. As far as we know, there have been no territorial disputes.

More breeding action is happening in the frog pond outside our guest room where we are holed up until our renovation project is complete. There are four frogs in this photo. Can you spot them all?

We listen to their throaty love language all through the night. Hopefully, they have learned to share the love pond with equanimity. If you know different, I don’t want to hear it.

Fragrant Sweet William, started from seed under lights last year. They fluffed out nice and green and stayed green all winter, holding their own against the black-eyed Susans and other ne’re do wells. But they did not show their true colors until this year. I hear they will pass the torch at the end of the year and we’ll have to start another batch. Until then, we’ll breath easy and wish them well.

Ants in the dianthus. You think you’re taking a picture of a flower and turns out you’re also documenting the secret lives of ants.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

6 replies on “Season of Hope – the spring interplay of flora and fauna”

Beautiful! The time of year where I become jealous of your garden and weather. It really is amazing what goes on under the microscope so to speak. How deep was that abyss?? Did they fill it in at all?

Just as I am jealous of your New Zealand garden all winter, Steph! The abyss is only deep enough for mice, worms, cockroaches, and on the far end, cats and possums. No need to fill it in, this is de rigueur for manufactured homes: pink insulation cradled in slings of weed mat between floor joists and topped with plywood.

You fill my heart with joy and promise every year my friend. But this is exceptional. Know that I am hugging you right now. Oh that Spring would last longer especially in our hearts.

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