Just Once: Nature’s Surprises

caterpillarEvery so often something different appears or happens near the pond.

Last year it was a Belted Kingfisher. What a commanding presence with his big handsome crested head, his strong beak. He sat on the lowest branch of the spruce over the water, making a terrific din. Below him was a large dead snake in the water. I thought the kingfisher might have found the snake too big to handle and had dropped it into the pond and was now trying to retrieve it, but I’m told that is highly unlikely. He stayed there all day, then that was it, I never saw him again. I had to fish the snake out with my net.

Another time the surprise was a beautiful red fox. No hanging around. Just slipped past.

Then there was a bear – but fortunately that was on a neighbor’s property!

This year, there was the turtle. A bee sting was new to me too. And today: two fairly young deer with antlers. We see a lot of deer including, once, a three-legged deer, but I’d never, in the more than twenty years I’ve been here, seen antlered deer. The antlers were about eighteen inches, knobby rather than spiked points. Just beautiful. I reached for my camera, but they were already gone. Good. Hunting season is not so very far off.

frogs in water hyacinth

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Nature’s Course

garter snake

garter snake

Did I see two garter snakes? Or the same snake twice? The first was under the pump cover. It was small and wriggled away in an instant.

The other (or the same one) slithered over the patio as I was trying to clean some of the mossy paving stones. This one looked bigger – or was that because I saw more of it?

An agitated squeaking from the edge of the pond. The grasses rustled and I caught sight of another snake – with a tiny frog in its mouth. More squeaking. I know I shouldn’t interfere with the course of nature but I stamped my foot, hoping that would frighten the snake off.

The snake leaped right into the air, tiny frog still in its mouth, landing in the pond. It rippled over the surface of the water towards the outlet. By the time it slid over the rocks, red tongue was flickering in and out, the frog was gone.

Scarlet Spikes Beside the Earth Pond

lobelia cardinalis - cardinal flowerScarlet spikes, brilliant against the dark green water and green leaves: lobelia cardinalis, cardinal flower.

My mother bought the seeds when she was here on holiday the summer after my father died. They had been his favorite flower and she was going to take them home to plant them in her own garden. But then she worried about whether it was legal to take seeds into the UK. Suppose she was arrested? She decided not to take them back. Instead she wanted to plant the seeds beside the pond. Over the years the flowers have flourished and spread. It’s always a special moment when I catch a glimpse of that dramatic scarlet. And the hummingbirds love them too.

The Firsts of Summer

earth pond with fishSo many wonderful firsts of summer: the first firefly, the first croak of a bullfrog, the first flower, the first swim in the earth pond… This week? The firsts that say fall is on the way: picking the first ripe blackberry (early this year), the first red leaves appearing on the trees, the first buds on the Japanese anenomes, a first something in the air.