Like most people we have been spending most of our time at home lately. Home is our refuge more than ever and the outdoors has become both a safe zone and a pleasant diversion from the troubles of the world.
Gardening and birding are hobbies we have enjoyed for many years. However, observing nature in our own backyard was something we did for an hour in the morning or evening and for a few hours on the weekend. Being home more has let us slow down and be aware of the beautiful rhythm of nature that is and always has been going on all around us.
During the last three seasons we have seen the different characters of nature come and go from center stage. In the spring we saw the migrating warblers, buntings and the sweet sounding white crowned sparrows. For a few weeks we had the pleasure of daily visits from a baltimore oriole. The spring flowering redbuds and crabapples lightened our spirits.
The hot summer brought baby robins to our bird bath while the flowers filled our yard with color. By July and August the garden was in full bloom and we valued the opportunity to watch swallowtail caterpillars make their remarkable transformation to butterfly on our dill.
In September we were enjoying the hummingbirds trying to fatten up for migration. They especially loved our native honeysuckle vine. By late in the month the asters and goldenrods were putting on a great show and the bumble bee queens were having their fill before hibernating for the winter.
With October came the fall migrating birds and the squirrels reappeared from the tree tops. We watched a hermit thrush devour every berry on our viburnum bush before heading further south. By late in the month our winter junco friends had arrived and the leaves that are so critical for overwintering caterpillars and beetles began to fall. Those beautiful, colorful falling leaves replenish the soils nutrients in preparation for next spring.
Nature has shown us so much beauty over the last several months. It has also shown us how much it is hurting. We saw first hand how much fewer bees and butterflies visited our flowers than did when we were kids. Monarchs were few and far between. There weren’t near as many lightning bugs as there were when we used to catch them. The street lamps were devoid of moths when we went for evening walks. Most homes we walked past had no birds or bees present. While green, the landscapes seemed barren. We took notice that some of our own plants also seemed to offer no contribution to the environment.
Our respect for the natural environment that surrounds us every day has increased. We saw how easily nature can be thrown off balance and how serious the ramifications of that can be. These things motivated us to form Sag Moraine Native Plant Community. We want to try to help our environment in our own small way and in our own small yard.
Jim and Catherine Bryla