Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Colorful bugs, Butterflies, Doves and Squirrels, Snakeskin

Yesterday, I was outside taking pictures of the Hundred Year Plants in our backyard. These plants do not live to be one hundred years, but they do shoot up tall stalks, stalks that grow as much as six feet in a day, as they start to die, then baby plants begin to grow on their roots. It is a remarkable example of the circle of life. The stalk has buds on the end and these turn into flowers that are consumed by beetles. The stalk eventually dries out, then the plant dries out as all of the energy is sent to the baby plants.

As I was taking pictures, I notices some beautiful, colorful bugs creeping along the leaves of the plants. I saw these same bugs on the Prickly Pear cactus plants outside our back door. I took some pictures and posted them to the right.

I have been collecting flowers that I generally dry and use in flower decorations. Flowers such as Lamb's Ears, Dusty Miller, Lavender and Yarrow. At first, I concentrated on collecting as much as I could, then I began to notice how many of the yellow caterpillars were on these flowers, sliding up and down the stalks. I also started to notice the hundreds of butterflies on the flowers of these plants.

I took pictures of a few of these butterflies and caterpillars,as well. I decided it just wouldn't be right to cut down all the flowers and deprive the little creatures of food, so I decided to leave half of the flowers on the plants for the butterflies and bugs. I still had a huge harvest and will have plenty for my flower vases this summer.

Last fall, I cut some holes in a plastic butter container and hung it from a tree branch. I filled it with seeds for the baby squirrels in case they were too shy to come onto the back porch. I have discovered that the baby squirrels prefer my bedroom patio, in spite of the prospect of being disturbed by my chihuahua. Instead, the seeds are eaten by many white-winged doves. Often, when I look out my bathroom window, I see two or three of them at a time with their heads stuck inside the container, picking out seeds. As long as they are happy, all is well.

While collecting flowers, I glanced down and spotted a huge snakeskin under some plants. At first, I didn't realize it was just the skin. Instinctively, I pulled my hand back--it would have been wiser to hold still--and fell backward down the front slope. After I dusted myself off and located my shoes, I climbed back up the hill and found a very long snakeskin. I can even see where the snake's eyes and mouth were. I'm fairly certain it belongs to the large garter snake that has sat on my shoes on a few occasions.

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