OMG What Just Happened

T found this caterpillar (pretty sure it’s a Monarch) on a plant, got a box and made a home for it with leaves and flowers to eat.

For an entire day, he referred to it as his pet and was constantly checking on its welfare.

“I love him so much, he’s beautiful.”

Late afternoon, he chose to release it under a shady plant because he thought it would have access to a fresher food source.

With me by his side, we picked a plant we both agreed would be tasty.

No sooner than he put it down and we watched it crawl away than a lizard ran over, grabbed it in his mouth and swallowed it.

We both gasped in horror as the realization of what occurred fully blossomed in our minds. It happened so fast and took us a moment to actually process what we saw.

T, sitting cross-legged on the ground, lowered his head and began to sob in genuine lament, tears staining his face and dripping down his chin.

“WHY, Grandma, why?” He said, “I loved my pet, why did the lizard eat him, why?”

Hearing T cry, Dad came out, I told him what happened, and he gathered T in his arms to comfort him as we gently tried to explain how nature works. His sadness broke our hearts, but I’m so proud of the compassionate way his dad helped him work through these huge emotions.

“I hate lizards. I’m going to hurt them.” Although retaliation was his first solution; it’s obviously not one he would be allowed to do!

After a while, and after a mango/black cherry ice cream cone (thank goodness I had made a double batch), he started to calm down and recover his normally cheery disposition.

He’s an extremely sensitive child and this was his first experience with the raw and gritty side of how animals live and survive.

I found two more caterpillars for him (whew) and this time we didn’t release them and they’re still here in his Spiderman bucket, gnawing their way through leaf after leaf.

He doesn’t know they’re only tomato hornworms and that’s going to be our little secret, right?

When Doves Cry: Life and Death

**This is so strange. I only published this post today, June 26, but it shows that it was published on the 24th, so I am RE-writing and posting again. Very odd WordPress, very odd.

We had a bit of rain, just a few drops, definitely not the kind of rain we need here in the Southwest, but I think my veggie garden was grateful for it.

When I went outside to check on the status of baby lettuce seedlings, I noticed a Monarch butterfly entangled in the netting surrounding the garden. I’ve been forced to use the barrier to keep out squirrels and rats and bunnies. There are plenty of other things in the garden those guys can eat, so I don’t feel too bad about restricting them from my yummy greens.

Carefully, I removed the netting from those delicate wings.

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After flying off, s/he returned with a mate and they circled my head a few times as if to thank me. “You’re welcome, guys! I was glad to help.”

Later that afternoon, right before dusk, I went for a walk. There were still beautiful clouds in the sky and I was thinking happy thoughts about the butterflies.

Suddenly, before I could even react, several things happened at once. A white van was driving down the street faster than the twenty-five mile an hour speed limit. A dove flew low across the street, left to right. (Yup, you can see where this is going.) The driver MUST have seen the bird, I’m sure of it.

Without slowing down or trying to avoid the imminent impact, the van ran into the bird, and to make it even more horrific, the back tires finished the slaughter. There were no other cars on the road; simply slowing down would have avoided it completely.

It doesn’t matter to me that there was nothing I could have done to prevent this tragedy. I ran out into the street to see if I needed to take the bird to a vet, but it was too late. Too late. I crouched down on my knees over the little dove almost in shock at the massive destruction the van did to his body. I took a photo because I wanted to remember the poor dear and honor his/her life, but it’s too gruesome to post and I feel it would be disrespectful to the innocent creature.

The bird was probably on his way home, and there might have been nesting babies that won’t be fed and won’t survive all because of the actions of one unaware or uncaring human. What if it was one of the doves I just wrote about that often visit me in the garden? How incredibly sad.

Well, that stripped me of the joy of saving a butterfly, that’s for sure. I’m a fixer and a helper. It’s a tough lesson for me to comprehend that sometimes things can be so terribly damaged that they can’t be mended or put back together, like this poor little bird who was beyond repair.

This made me think of Prince. When doves cry, so do I.



Dove Love

In my garden, this Mourning Dove family and I peacefully co-exist.

According to All About Birds, this is a graceful, slender-tailed, small-headed dove that’s common across the continent. Mourning Doves perch on telephone wires and forage for seeds on the ground; their flight is fast and bullet straight. Their soft, drawn-out calls sound like laments. When taking off, their wings make a sharp whistling or whinnying.

However, this fact is really upsetting to me: Mourning Doves are the most frequently hunted species in North America. Who could possibly want to murder these gentle creatures? Once again, humans suck.

Mother Nature’s Green Screen

This elusive Scott’s Oriole has been taunting me for years, sitting in one spot for great lengths of time ONLY when I don’t have a camera near me, and when I do, he flits around like a hummingbird.

This time I was able to capture his beauty for a single brief moment, his yellow vibrant against the green screen of a Giant Bird of Paradise.

What a beautiful profile of a beautiful boy!

May be an image of bird and nature

#WorldBeeDay

How should we celebrate World Bee Day? Drink mead? Save a bee colony? Stop killing bees?

My recent post about a bee who rested for a moment on my deck underscores my understanding of the importance of this intelligent creature.

Here’s a website with all sorts of bee-related info: https://www.worldbeeday.org/en/

Why May 20, you might ask? And why Slovenia?

Slovenia proposed that 20 May be proclaimed World Bee Day. 

From the website: “In May, the northern hemisphere sees bees and nature develop profusely, while the southern hemisphere enters autumn, when hive products are harvested and the season of honey and honey-based products begins.”

“In addition, 20 May is the birth date of Anton Janša (1734–1773), a Slovenian beekeeper, the pioneer of modern beekeeping and one of the greatest authorities on the subject of bees.”

Even the United Nations recognizes today’s date as #WorldBeeDay. …To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face, and their contribution to sustainable development, the UN designated 20 May as World Bee Day.

So…I’m not sure who is the first entity to claim the title of World Bee Day–was it the United Nations or Slovenia?

But who cares, as long as awareness is raised and we all become more educated about these little yellow and black striped flying honey makers.

Will You Bee My Friend?

I used to be terrified of bees mainly because I’m allergic — which is certainly a plausible rationale for fear, but I have so many bees here at Casa de Enchanted Seashells–they love rosemary and lavender and other herbs, that I’ve decided to quell my anxiety and bee friendly.

Bees are incredibly valuable to sustaining life on Earth; they deserve our love and protection, along with a healthy respect for their ability to cause pain. Angel Boy 2.0 and I spend quite a bit of time researching bees.

This little guy took a rest on the deck from his hard work saving Planet Earth and was perfectly amenable to pose for a series of photos and then he buzzed away. More flowers, more pollen, more honey!

Who Am I?

Although I could probably ruminate for a few hours to ponder that existential question; light a candle and meditate with a mantra, I’m not. Instead, I’m wondering is what and who is THIS?

Does anyone know? I’m not sure it’s albino but I have never seen an alligator lizard this color. I can’t find any information at all. He comes out every day from a spot near the veggie garden and hangs out for a bit.

Most of my other alligator lizards look more like this:

Totally different, right? Even the scales look different. Maybe I discovered a new species or maybe it’s an odd, aberrant mutation. I sent this photo to the local herpetological society to see if they can identify my new friend.

If you have an idea, let me know!

UPDATE: Mystery solved! San Diego Herp Society got back to me right away with this great website and information that pretty much explains the odd coloration. Apparently it’s a variation of a Great Basin Fence Lizard. If you scroll down the page, they talk about Rusty-Orange Variations.

http://www.californiaherps.com/lizards/pages/s.o.longipes.html?fbclid=IwAR35ItZm3k6mLudiGD0b8ZOZ9b_16js0U-fGIvNFu2vinK4cggMxBchtfQ8

Say Hello to My New Garden Visitor

Welcome, friend!

I hope to see your babies one day, too!

Are you thinking about Pepé Le Pew? I’m thinking this is another beneficial creature that enjoys a stroll around the garden along with the coyotes and bunnies and possums and raccoons. I don’t include rats or ground squirrels in that group ‘cos I really really don’t like them!

Moose in Grand Tetons

What a beautiful boy! He was almost completely camouflaged, resting in the cool grass, enjoying a late afternoon snack. Those antlers are magnificent, aren’t they?

I could have stayed there for hours, watching him in silence, but I had to go. He didn’t seem too concerned and kept eating and eating.