(Please) Do Not Disturb
Despite prognostications about a dry year, the autumn rains have arrived with vigor, sometimes in glorious storms alive with lightning and rumbling thunder along with sudden torrential downpours. Many morning, the island is smothered in heavy fog that lies like a thick grey blanket, hushing sounds and muting the still-brilliant fall foliage. The rains also woke up dormant tree frogs who serenade me with a lusty croaking chorus as I putter in the garden. A friend shared this image from her garden a few days ago, reminding me of all the times I’ve found these beautiful little creatures snuggled up in a blossom bed. For several years, a large clump of daylilies was rarely without a tiny green companion, who moved from a fading flower to a fresh one each morning.
These clever critters estivate during our dry summers, waking up with the returning rains and spending the winters dozing fitfully, sleeping during a freeze and reawakening to forage for food through the long thaws. Once while tidying up a border I disturbed a larger frog, carefully wrapped in what looked like a bundle of dried leaves caught in a cleft between hydrangea stems. I rewrapped it carefully, hoping that it would make it through the winter despite my bumbling but ever since, I’ve been more cautious about clearing up the beds and borders. Most of the hundreds of bee species native to the northwest coast are ground dwellers so instead of doing comprehensive border renovations, I try to minimize ground disturbance when tucking in bulbs and dividing overgrown perennials.
Mushrooms Of Hope
It’s been a bleak and difficult month around here, with devastating world news overlapping painful family news and heartbreaking anniversaries. I’m subject to news creep, which can be debilitating, so in self defense I’ve retreated once again from drinking the toxin of daily news and am keeping my focus local for now. Even the science news briefs and blogs I follow are really hard reading sometimes as it becomes every more obvious that we humans are apparently fatally incapable of self restraint. One thing that gives me hope is the resurgence of mushrooms, which are popping up everywhere as the rains soak into summer-dry soil. Pioneer Paul Stametz has opened our eyes to the truly astonishing ability of fungi to heal soil and heal diseases in both plants and people. As I ramble around on my daily walks, it’s heartening to see mushrooms, slime molds, and other fungi emerging from dormancy and know that they are doing deep healing work underneath the surface. If we succeed in destroying life giving aspects of our planet, fungi will (eventually) reinvent a new way of living on Earth.
For now, I’m feeling grateful for the free exchange of life supporting oxygen and carbon dioxide between trees and many living things. Walking in the neighborhoods or strolling in the woods, sharing breath with trees keeps us all alive. Gratitude can be hard work in dire times like these dark days, yet there’s no refreshment in depression, no strength and no renewal in despair. A dear friend used to talk about “yes and” situations in which something dreadful is definitely true AND there is also always something to be grateful for. Finding that something can feel like a stretch but as we know, it’s good for minds and bodies both to get out of our ruts and stretch. It’s also good to take a big lung filling breath and thank the trees for their generosity. Onward, right?