In a naturalized garden, many forms of life come to call. We provide a home to a wide variety of animals, insects and birds throughout the year. Summer is a wonderful time to sit and watch as the wildlife enjoys the bounty alongside us. Sometimes, we are competing for the harvest, but when we keep everything well cared for, we are able to share without conflict.
This year, the mulberry tree grew exponentially. We hadn’t seen it grow so much in one year before. We had branches reaching down to the ground and over the fence! The abundance of the berries was exuberant. Watching them carefully throughout the spring as they developed and waiting with mouth watering for their ripening in July. Much to our surprise, the tree seemed messier than usual. Pieces of berries all over the leaves and more debris on the ground underneath as well. Fewer ripe berries were on the tree than expected, though plenty of red ones were in evidence.
Finally, we came to understand that the overgrown branches were providing a highway for the rats and they were having a field day eating our mulberries! So, mid-season, we pruned back the branches to save the last bits of the harvest for ourselves! The good news is, there was plenty for our consumption due to the unusual growth of the tree this year.
Much of the wildlife in the garden we never actually get to see – a whiff of a skunk during the evenings through an open window, the rustlings of baby raccoons heard through the bedroom window in the middle of the night or the baby possum that accidentally got closed into the chicken coop some years back.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a flurry of activity from the birds. Over a period of three days, we had two red shouldered hawk sightings and a blue heron that came to visit three times. The first sighting was the hawk that swooped down over the stream in the side yard as we ate breakfast. It landed in the branches of the tree that overhangs the bench next to the pond. The stream and the fountain next to the pond are favorite bathing spots for the smaller birds in the yard which would make a great snack for a hawk.
The next afternoon a blue heron suddenly appeared on the edge of the water catchment pool in the back yard. Viewing this magnificent bird was something to be remembered for years to come. It’s difficult to describe the feeling… Majestic, awe-inspiring, imposing. The gift of the regal presence of this five foot tall bird from only 30 feet away absorbed us completely. It returned later the next morning looking for something to eat from that pool that only has a few plants floating in the water with some mosquito fish. Nothing for such a great heron to partake of.
Stepping out the side door onto the sidewalk, the slight sound of flapping wings above and the heron had returned. Landing in the top of the juniper tree to view the surrounding area. Even at this distance, the majestic heron seemed to be posing for the camera. Definitely sending out a message brought from the wilderness to our humble place.
The messages of wildlife go deep into the soul especially when experienced from close by. Look at the water’s reflection to see the truth of your inner self. Surrender to nature’s way, stand strongly in purpose with persistence, perseverance and determination. Fly high and view the wider world from a clear perspective. Freedom!