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They Live Here, Too

by | Apr 22, 2013

SONY DSCI’m walking on a mulched path and suddenly it crinkles and crackles. A mole is apparently slithering through just under the surface, raising the roof of his tunnel and making me think of my mother. She would have been at him with a shovel. Or at the very least a hose gushing running water.

But I just watch. And then I see them–long red earthworms zipping up out of the mulch just in front of the digging mole and scampering away. Ever see an earthworm scamper? One speeding to the right, one to the left, and one out ahead in the center. I cheer them on. After all, I love our earthworms! (Moles, not so much.) And I love it when nature surprises me with a little drama I’ve never seen before, humble though it may be. That’s the thing about gardening—there’s always something new. And I’m not even talking about the plants!

If you think a garden is just about flowers, herbs, and vegetables, then you may never have stumbled on a large croaker lying in your baby snapdragons, its eyes pecked out by the osprey who dropped it on his way from fishing in the nearby Warwick River. Ask Steve and Lisa about that discovery. And about the red-tailed hawk nesting in a tall tree on the far side of the horse pasture, where last year a family of great horned owls made their home.

Last summer, the long hours we spent harvesting zinnias and lisianthus were sometimes punctuated with a shriek of surprise as a black rat snake slithered down a sunflower stalk, or a box turtle lumbered out from under the rudbeckias. Any monotony was banished by the sight of acrobatic goldfinches hanging on the sunflowers or bluebirds swooping to the fence.

This spring it appeared that a pushy house sparrow had frightened away the house wren that had raised a family last year just outside Lisa’s workshop, filling the air with music and the flurry of feeding its little ones. But to our delight, a Carolina wren found a tiny stainless steel bucket tucked under the outdoor utility sink, and built a nest in it with a curving entrance. Now there are six tiny eggs, and the little brown bird flits in and out all day long, quite at home among the thousands of fresh young plants lined up on the cement floor waiting to go to the garden.

As I left the garden today, I saw a large brown rabbit sitting poised at the edge of Lisa’s front landscaping, her eye on a tempting plant. Her awkward stance made me think she was hoping I would not notice. I looked the other way.

It may be Lisa’s garden, but they live here, too.