Smelling the roses…

Oakleaf hydrangea

“Life comes at you fast.”  We all love those insurance commercials because we could all have our turn starring in one.  Sometimes it even involves a big insurance claim, like for my daughter who recently went through labor with their first child while her husband dealt with a massive basement disaster.  Other times, we get caught up in the tornado twists of just living–there’s no insurance check for that one.

Saturday was a catch up day for me.  Ah…a day at home and all was calm.  It was a day to (a) stop and smell the roses or (b) do all the things I have not gotten around to because I’ve been busy.  Well, since I do not actually have any roses, that presented a logistical problem for option A.  Option B was overwhelming enough to send me into paralysis mode.  I  decided to follow the advice someone gave me years ago when I was in overload:  Don’t do anything unless it makes you happy.  Ok, this is not a mantra for all of life, but it is pretty helpful at keeping me from shut-down mode.


Since I have no roses (note to self:  buy some roses), I decided to just walk around the property, take stock of what was going on out there, and enjoy what I could.  There was a lot to enjoy.  In front of the house, the laurel are blooming like never before.  In the herb garden, big beautiful clusters of chamomile pick up the flowering where the sage blossoms left off, and feathery fennel fronds tickle my legs as I walk by.  In the back, the hydrangea bushes are preparing another stunning display.  It made me happy.

Mountain laurel

The rains of May have produced lush growth.  It’s looking more jungle-like than usual for June.  The weeds are very happy.  The weeds threaten to overwhelm everything, including me.  I chose to focus on the lettuce beds.  It would be nice to know what really is in my salad.  I pulled weeds until I had nice neat rows and my back was telling me to quit.  Then I took a water break in the lounge chair until raindrops shooed me indoors.

A rain shower is the perfect time to sit on the screen porch.  Unless it is covered in pollen.  Since it would make me happy to sit on the porch if the porch were clean, I wrapped a kerchief around my face and got to work.  I swept the screens. I swept the floor.  I swept and washed the tables and chairs.  All the while I thought of the bunny we used to have.  Lucy lived on the porch and in spring would hop around in circles mopping up the pollen while her feet turned green.    I appreciated her effort, even if she didn’t know she was making one.  She was just happy to hop around the porch.

Now that my porch is clean, I can stop and smell…oh, raindrops on fresh-cut grass,  citronella candles keeping the mosquitos away, hamburgers on the grill.  This was a day where a to-do list would have backfired on me and I would have accomplished nothing.  Giving myself permission to do nothing resulted accomplishing more than I expected.

Caterpillars on the fennel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     What’s scarier than Buggy or the One Red-Eyed Wolf?  Green caterpillars with black and white stripes and orange horns!    Ok, maybe they aren’t so scary. (Well, they are a little scary if you click on the picture and see the eNORmous image of them.)  They are rather amazing.  We found 10 of them on the fennel yesterday.  We put some of them in jars with fennel to see what happens.  We’ll leave some on the fennel, though.  They will be happier outside.  Plus, since I failed to actually harvest my fennel seed last year, I have way more fennel than I need.   The caterpillars are certainly welcome to it.

These caterpillars will become black swallowtail butterflies.  They are almost ready to latch onto a twig, spin a chrysalis and turn into butterflies.  Sometime in the next two weeks we should have some new winged neighbors fluttering by the butterfly bush.

And those orange horns?  That’s a defense mechanism.  They stick them out and make a stinky smell when they need to scare someone, like PopPop.  We didn’t notice the stinky smell, though, because PopPop already smelled like a cigar.  And that’s pretty stinky.