Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Activity Centre

Yesterday's 5.8, Richter scale magnitude earthquake that wobbled a couple chandeliers in D.C. and made pin-flags shimmy up and down East coast country clubs probably meant zilch to the bees and other flying objects that buzz about the "activity centre" in my front yard garden.  More and more, my garden is less about the food I take from it and more about the food and employment it gives to the native insect populations.  Rather, I should say it's more and more about pleasure I take from watching the bugs, most of which are very cooperative (unlike some baristas I know) when I stoop down to snap a photo with my 12.1 megapixel PowerShot.  



This is Henrietta.  She's feeding on a zinnia.  If you look closely, you can actually see her proboscis dipping into one of the flowers.  One of the flowers?  Huh?  Well, I did not intend to launch into flower botany 101 this morning, but here goes: zinnias are compound flowers; compound flowers are flowers that appear to be one flower but upon closer inspection are actually a bunch of flowers.  So, to be technically accurate, the actual flowers in this photo are those little yellow, trumpet-shaped buggers in the middle.  Hence, Henrietta is dunkin' her tongue into one of them.  I should add that Henrietta stands alone among the butterflies that frequent my garden.  She sat still for numerous shots; most butterflies have ants in their pants.  They don't sit still.




The honey bees, on the other hand, don't give a damn about me.  I've poked them before with the tip of my lens.  They just go about their business, a business that is just as serious as any I know.  Don't tell a roofer that a bee works harder than he does, but the next time you see a roofer chucking an old shingle onto a garden, think it.  One time I told a dude in the construction biz that the raccoon we were watching pick through a garbage can was "earning a living."  This did not go over well.  "Earning a living" was exclusively reserved for people, preferably people who sit in cubicles, pay cellphone bills, and pump gas.  (Oh, gas...I'd nearly forgotten that we're racing toward the end of this Oilchanges X-Country Road and Farm Fun(d) Drive month.  Click the gas can.) Anyway, we're all earning our living, even the plants.  



This wild member of the onion family opened shop and immediately attracted customers.  In this case, just this one honey bee, George.  On both ends of the time continuum that surrounds this photo, George can be found extracting onion nectar from each of the open flowers.  What's the price of that nectar?  The onion shopkeeper told George that he could have the nectar if he would get some pollen on his body and move it from flower to flower.  George agreed heartily.  He carries his wallet on his fuzz.  I have one last point I want to make about the activity centre.


I love a green lawn as much as the next guy, and if I didn't have a lawn to mow, by my calculation I'd be 14% less happy, so don't start thinking I'm a lawn hater, because I'm not.  I'm a lawn lover.  Still, though, lawns do come at the great expense of possible activity centres everywhere.  My neighbor's house is exactly the same as mine: same layout, same lot size, same amount of front yard.  His, however, is crabgrass.  Mine's garden.  His front yard is bug-free.  Mine's bug mania.  Mine's activity centre.  His is go away.  If your heart doesn't bleed for bugs, you might appreciate the human consequence of a crabgrass exterior.  I have all sorts of neighbors that stop by my porch and shoot the breeze with me.  I give them dill and flowers.  They give me chicken manure and eggs and bottles of craft ale on my birthday.  I don't know what my neighbor's yard and porch attract.  A lawn mower, junk mail and bills.  We share that base-line existence.  I just personally think it's important to encourage a little community, from the bottom of the food chain up, by planting some flowers and letting some wild plants grow.  The rewards are many and nice.  According to the poet, A.C., I am my garden's "animal."  I work for it, and it works for me.     

9 comments:

danjor21 said...

Congrats on making the "Blogs of note"
I found your post to be...educational.
http://psychoticfastfoodrants.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

hola

Jan said...

Beautiful photography--Henrietta is gorgeous--and I enjoy your writing style. The last bit--with your neighbor's lawn--nice little lesson in humanity.

Joy Ni dhomhnaill said...

Great post, really love your photos. George really made me smile!

Cassy said...

Love your blog- you are very funny. Congrats on making blog of note!

Jimbo said...

We have a backyard garden and, among other things, have planted a French pumpkin vine, which has taken over most of the county at this point. We plant them as much for their prolific blossoms, which are great to cook for as anything else. On morning went out to pick some blossoms and two bees were cuddled up together at the bottom of a blossom sound asleep. Wish I had my camera at the moment - so cute.

CountryMouse said...

I love the photos especially the butterfly. Great read.

Three Hundred Sixty Five said...

Somehow, I feel sorry for your neighbor ~ since they have naught but crabgrass, they may lack the green thumb you obviously have!
Great post.

Anonymous said...

Was investigating how to start a blog and started reading yours. Love your comment about cell phone bills - I feel like that everyday. Keep writing and I will keep reading!