Saturday, May 30, 2015

When the Rain Comes

When the rains come, the world becomes a magical place. It's spring...again. How quickly the seasons seem to fade into each other. I remember the year we had six double rainbows in one season. We called it the "Summer of the Rainbows".  We rarely see a rainbow here and we certainly don't see double rainbows very often at all. So to see six in one year was pretty magical.

The sun pops out, warming the earth. This sight, in and of itself, is pretty magical, too. I don't need much to make me happy. I can be quite content doing very little or nothing. I am very pleased being outside in nature, snapping a few photographs, thinking and daydreaming. You are never too old to daydream. Let your thoughts carry you away, to other places, other times. Dream of all you long to do and make plans for how you may do them....even if only someday...even if never.

Grass seems to grow before your very eyes. Instant green, thick and lush. Beautiful weeds and flowers dot the hillside. We welcome the wild, for it provides for our bees. We have a hive and are very excited about harvesting honey in the future. For now, our swarm of 25,000 is busy gathering nectar and feeding the bees-to-be. 

 Our small john boat floats lazily in the water. Children can often be found at the pond, dipping their nets in the water or looking for tadpoles. We hear the deep, rhythmic calls of the leopard bullfrogs. The sounds resonate within me, instantly taking me back to my childhood and summers at my grandparents' house. Grandma and Grandpa did not have central air conditioning, so the windows were kept open all day and all night. Cool breezes, if you were lucky, stirred the curtains and drifted into your room. The sounds of crickets and frogs and a diesel on the highway in the distance lulled you to sleep.  I will never forget. I don't want to forget. When I hear those sounds, even now, many years later, I am transported to another time.

I always knew in my heart that I would have land of my own someday. But to have a small pond was just an extra bonus. Can you guess what is in the picture above? It is not fish eggs or even frog eggs, as we first thought. No......we are so lucky to have spotted salamanders living at our pond and these are their eggs.

And these are them and aren't they really cute? I adore them. If you do not touch quickly or roughly, they will let you hold them. However, they will emit a poisonous substance from their glands if they feel threatened or harmed in any way. It is a milky white liquid that oozes from their skin. We have never seen one do this. We always wash our hands very well with hot, soapy water after handling them. They are the things of fairy tales...I am thinking of Beatrix Potter and Elsa Beskow stories. There is always a newt or salamander in them somewhere.

We also have snakes, thanks to our pond. It attracts all sorts of wildlife. Here is a list of some of the wonderful creatures we have seen or captured on our land: Bobcats, foxes, coyotes, deer, raccoons, 'possum, armadillos, wild rabbits, snapping turtles, blue herons, ducks. This particular snake happens to be a very harmless black rat snake. They eat mice, so we like them. Because we have chickens and other animals, mice are abundant. Unfortunately, these snakes also like to eat chicken eggs and we have seen them do that a few times. This is what it looks like when you capture a black rat snake who has eaten a few too many eggs: 

(see the egg still inside?)

Red-eared sliders are the most common turtle but when we first moved to this place, many, many years ago...I saw a giant snapping turtle trying to cross the road and come onto our property. I felt sorry for it, as I was afraid a car would hit it. So I attempted to save it. BIG mistake! Never mess with these ancient-looking beasts...they are strong! When I grabbed his shell, making sure to keep my hands well away from his chompers, he slammed his body down so hard, it almost dislocated my elbow! Ouch! I learned a hard lesson that day. An old man was driving down the road and saw me standing next to the turtle. He was laughing as he stopped, put his truck into park and got out. He said in a thick, country accent, "This is how you move a snapper, " and he grabbed it by it's big, thick tail and drug it across the road and literally chunked it into the grass. It was probably over 100 lbs. but he managed just fine. He got back into his truck and drove away. That was my introduction to life in the country.

I have to say, I have learned a lot over the years living here. We have tamed the land somewhat and are growing an orchard. We plant gardens and have animals. A barn is in the works but not completed. But it's still wild in places and we prefer it that way. Wild like my heart.