So many folks in my neighborhood (Zone 8b) spend quite a lot of electricity and/or gasoline getting their fallen leaves in bags and onto the street curb these days. Not a lot of analog rake noises abound. And, here in my native deep South, the Live Oaks are the cause of so much local activity.
This candid culprit makes no apologies as it delivers a raucous leaf explosion this time of year. We love them so much whilst they herald the first day of Spring for us by shedding almost every dang brown leaf they have on board. With this kind of flotsam in an Oak lined drive….well, I get excited about the fallen leaves. They are so full of Nitrogen. Click here and here for all the great news!
I asked my great friend, Randall Lake, for a photograph of his compost pile very recently. I knew it would be good- but how could I have known it would be this good? For all my internet friends out there who allow me the usurpation, I have only this response:
I study the lives on a leaf: the little
Sleepers, numb nudgers in cold dimensions,
Beetles in caves, newts, stone-deaf fishes,
Lice tethered to long limp subterranean weeds,
Squirmers in bogs,
And bacterial creepers
Wriggling through wounds
Like elvers in ponds,
Their wan mouths kissing the warm sutures,
Cleaning and caressing,
Creeping and healing.
I found these yesterday while touring Botany Island, South Carolina. And, of course, the name of the island speaks volumes.
I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: —
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.
-William Wordsworth, 1807
Yes, yes, yes…I see them. Those oaks ARE beautiful! But, really, I do want to talk about that mud puddle. Because, I want to talk about Mud Daubers. This unbelievably beautiful view is off the front porch of Rochelle Plantation’s main house. That direction we are looking is the finest selection of coastal plain of the South Carolina Santee River Delta I can find and I am lucky enough to get to wake here and have some coffee and walk about. We are looking East towards Bulls Bay, ultimately leading to the Atlantic Ocean. Very close to being beneath sea level, too. So, the bugs around these parts are plentiful and varied and important and some can be super cool and interesting. Like, the Mud Daubers, or Dirt Daubers, or Sphecidae Wasps, a category of thread-waisted wasps that build their nests from mud and cling them to the side of the cabin. Or, porch. Or, bury them up in the bow of your jon boat. These wasps abound around Rochelle. I have seen their nests all over the joint. They fly down to that particular mud puddle there after a rain and navigate their tiny bodies to the rim and collect their material for home building. They are non-aggressive to humans. No need to fear. What they really want to eat and feed their young and store in their tubular larders are Black Widows. Dang, can you say “Thank you?”