Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wigglers Ladybugs Wolf Spiders and Toads

I woke up around 4 this morning with cramps in my legs. My heart was racing. I was awakened during one of those escaping dreams. Trying to get away and trying to move my legs so they would stop cramping. I got up to walk around and smelled something different in the house.

Coco wanted outside and I really smelled it there. It was a sort of sweet and acidic smell. Nothing familiar to it comes to mind. My heart was racing. Probably because of the dream.

I came in the house and smelled the same thing, faintly. So I decided to turn off the air conditioner.

And all of this made me wonder yet again, are there toxins being released into the environment that couldn't be released during the day time when more people would notice it?

There have been times when during the wee hours, I've smelled what seemed like pesticides. And there have been other times when there was a strong scent of burning plastic in the air.

Since there is a huge lab a few miles away and a landfill a little further away, putting these together as a sort of hmmmm.

I decided not to try to go back to sleep and made my bed and turned on the remainder of some coffee we had with company yesterday. A rare treat, I don't drink it often anymore.

And as I watched the sun begin to lighten the sky and peek its way through the fullness of green framed by my windows I started thinking, there are a few things I haven't seen this year.

For the past ten years I've been noticing an increasingly lower number of spiders. Wolf spiders in particular but all kinds of spiders have become fewer and fewer. And no toads or ladybugs at all this year. There used to be these wonderfully cherry red ladybugs. And then suddenly there were orange ones and these seemed to bite. They were everywhere. But I haven't seen any this year. Not a one.

And then we got these beetles that were burrowing under the barks of the trees, especially the elm and ash trees. And by last summer's end, these skinless trees were scattered everywhere. They quickly died and the shells of their former glory were left to stand as a stark reminder that our environment is fragile.

I remember always seeing Wolf spiders outside. And there would always be a few in the basement. I was never keen on them being in the house. And over the past few years I have noticed their decline. But this year I haven't even seen one of them. No ladybugs, red or orange, either. And no long earthworms after the rain. We have had so much rain this year. And it dawned on me, ten years ago when it rained, earth worms would cover the driveway. Some were quite long. Like baby snakes; some a foot long, maybe even a little longer. And this year, with so much rain it just struck me, I haven't seen any.

The birds have been having all kinds of fun flicking through the remnants of my leafy beds in the yard after a rain. And when I did my planting this year I did see earthworms. But no long wigglers or wigglers or any kind on my driveway or on the pathway to my front door either. Nary a one.

The geese have dwindled down so I can't remember the last time I saw a flock of them gather and form a "W" in the sky. I have only seen a very few Bluejays in the past ten years. And fewer fruit brown bats and crows every year.

I haven't got any answers. These are just observations.

I have been experimenting with my flower and ornamental bushes and trees planting beds. When I was a young girl my grandmother, whose family were poor dirt farmers, used to teach me how to pick certain areas of the hill and throw vegetable ends and berries in sunny spots and of course, coffee grounds in another spot so we would have lots of Tiger Lilies and earthworms when we wanted to go fishing.

Keeping with this idea I decided to do the same thing. Whenever I had a really great tasting (with seeds thank you very much) piece of fruit or a vegetable, I'd throw the ends of it or the last mushy berries in another sunny area and see what happened. My front yard has huge areas of strawberries everywhere and now I have two very healthy blackberry bushes. I'm going to relocated them to a nice sunny area in the fall and place rocks around them so they don't take over the yard. I love the idea of having a large berry patch to give the birds a place to hide from predators. And to have fresh berries, warmed by the sun, what could be better?

Now I've got potatoes growing and sprawling out in one area and zucini and yellow squash, carrots and onion and garlic in other areas. I decided not to harvest anything this year and see what comes up naturally next spring. I love the idea of mixing things up. Doing some intentional planting along with some random, let's see what happens kind of edibles in with my flowers and flowering bushes and trees.

My goal is to have a front yard filled with berry bushes, strawberries, veggies and my next project is to get some cherry trees going.

Instead of mowing the lawn I'd rather weed and use herbs and berries as ground coverings and watch other crops take on a life of their own. I guess you can take the farmer out of the country but you can't take the country out of the farmer. Here I am, once again, developing and encouraging an organic farm to flourish on this plot of land.

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