Finally, last year, we decided we needed to do "something" to make our yard more livable, more enjoyable and more "home". So, we planted a few flowers and a few bushes - a mock orange, a red wiegela and a couple of butterfly bushes, lots of cone flowers, some black-eyed Susans and some other "butterfly inviting" plants.
The butterfly bush was a great hit. The gal at the nursery told me that we would have butterflies as soon as I planted the thing in the ground. "They just loooove them," is what she said. And, so it was. Literally, we planted the bush, went into the house, looked out the window and there was a huge monarch butterfly on the bush. That was the beginning of last summer. I haven't seen one since. I think, maybe, it traveled home with us already attached to the plant.
We made a bird and butterfly oasis around our maple tree in the back corner of our lot. We filled it with all kinds of perennials and annuals, a bird bath and a statue of St. Francis. We also filled it with 30 bags of mulch. I can tell you, it takes a lot of mulch to make things look nice.
This year, we have cleaned away all of the winter debris in the oasis and have started anew. We planted a few more perennials, a couple of annuals for color and added a few more bird feeders. It is like the Ryan's Steakhouse Smorgasbord Buffet for birds. We put out the feed; and, in a matter of hours, the place is teeming with folks we have never seen before. So far, we have red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves (interesting, fat birds), goldfinches and other kinds of finches. We have robins, sparrows, a blue jay and a "couple" of cardinals. They eat breakfast and then they eat again around dinnertime. Joe and I sit on our porch and enjoy the view. We have a nice community. They have their place and we have ours and it is nice and comforting to be able to share the same air and share a meal. And, here's the good part, they provide the music.
This year, we have a new visitor. I saw him a few days ago scoping out the joint. As I said, we have lived in our home for seven years. In that time I believe we have hardly ever seen a squirrel in our yard or the neighborhood. Come to find out, this big guy lives in our neighbor's yard - the yard behind us and two doors up - the only yard with big, established trees - and now, he has discovered the new restaurant in town. Only problem is he likes to eat everything and a lot of it. And, he's messy.
Oh well, I guess we will be enjoying the antics of this beast. I don't have the heart to try and keep him out of the bird's food and they seem to tolerate his presence without any issues. He is probably more persistent than Joe and me; plus, I figure, he is hungry, too. So we will try to share with him, as well. Hank (the crazy doodle) has never seen a squirrel so has no idea what to do with one. His only objective is to try to make friends. He's a good dog. So, everyone is safe.
We love all of this nature around us. The flowers are growing and some are blooming. The trees are filling out and now provide some lovely shade and a cool breeze. The birds and the squirrel are fun to watch and it is gratifying to know that we can help provide food for their needs and they bring such enjoyment to us in exchange. Yes, I love our little oasis and I hope these creatures do, too. As the saying goes..."build it and they will come". It's true and a mystery. We built the thing and they just showed up.
And, this is only the beginning of summer. We have things to look forward to - all of our flowers will be in full bloom soon, the buds on our tomatoes will be turning to big, juicy fruit. The red and green peppers, growing in pots on our porch, are already showing great promise. The herbs will be put to good use. And, maybe - just maybe - we will actually see butterflies on that spectacular butterfly-friendly bush.
Summer - it's the season to break new ground, to plant new seeds, to nurture, to grow, to protect, to spread our wings, to try new things, to relax and to be thankful for the way God provides for us. This year, as I watch our birds, I am reminded again and again that God provides for us in so many ways. And, I remember to be thankful. After all, his eye is on the sparrow...