|A garden is all about plants... isn't it?|
When you are actually out in the thick of things, however, it is obvious that plants aren't the only things living in the garden.
I have daily encounters with all sorts of things. Birds, of course, are the first things we encounter -- albeit rarely up close -- when in the garden. They go flitting about and announce themselves with inumerable songs and calls.
|Bumblebees like collards flowers.|
Many people are wary of encounters with bees -- those with allergies understandably so -- but bees in the garden are not to be feared. Unless you sit on one, or it flies up your skirt, bees working the flowers are pretty easy going.
|Honey bees like collards flowers, too.|
In my garden, an encounter with snakes is not uncommon. Most of them are small, either young ones or species that do not grow large. The little brown snakes that eat snails and slugs are most welcome. Others might not be as beneficial by eating pests -- ring neck snakes eat earthworms, and garter snakes like frogs, for example. Yet I do enjoy their company.
We are surrounded by rocky woodlands populated by copperheads and rattlesnakes, Kansas' only venemous snakes (we do have 2 or 3 kinds of rattlers).
|Wheel bug. A bug predator.|
The other day as I was squatting in the flower garden next to the house, doing some weeding, I looked up and saw our friendly neighborhood black snake, also known as the Western Rat Snake, checking me out. It was probably following a mouse trail and was as surprised to see me as I was to see him/her.
|Sorry, no snake picture. But here is a nice lady bug larva.|
I've come to look forward to encounters with this guardian snake, which is a long way from the screaming and running that I did as a child.
When you live right up against nature all of the time, you change. You begin to see things you encounter in a different light.
The first time I remembered encountering ladybug larvae, I found them on some eggplants. They are rather fierce looking and I assumed they were up to no good and started killing them, but my conscience stopped me before I got them all.
Imagine my chagrin when I learned that they are voracious aphid eaters.
|Praying mantis. Close encounter of the bug kind.|
We continue to learn to appreciate the things with which we share this land and to appreciate their places in it.
Through this appreciation of other things, I learn to appreciate my place in the midst of it all.
|Swallowtail butterfly encounter.|