Superman and I were the only witnesses to this nighttime scene. After which, I released the bug and retired the toothbrush.
I have not told the owner of the toothbrush.
“MOM,” he yelled to me next morning, “Is the new green toothbrush mine?”
“YES,” I yelled back, “The white one was worn out.”
But what I didn’t add was, “and it’s in the trash because a giant Western Conifer Seed Bug was sucking on it.”
The Western Conifer Seed Bug’s genus name is Leptoglossus. Lepto is “fine, thin, delicate,” and glossus is tongue. You’d need a “fine, thin, delicate” tongue in order to suck sap from immature pine cones.
While recovering from migraine during freakishly warm February days, I pull weeds. Slowly, gently, quietly, and in the shade. So far, I have filled an entire 30 gallon Leaf Bag with nothing but one kind of weed. My worst weed. The weed I wish would die in a supernova: the Star of Bethlehem.
I’ve ranted about this plant before (here), but I rant again because on every public occasion when I point to the foliage or the flowers and proclaim the thuggery of this twinkling plant, I am met with disbelief. “Oh, but it’s so sweet!” gush the disbelievers. Sweet, pretty, adorable, etc.
All true. I used to make sweet, pretty, adorable bouquets of the flowers—all the flowers—in hopes that plucking them would prevent seed-formation, and perhaps reduce the number of new Stars next Spring.
But plucking did not work. Digging did not work. Smothering with cardboard did not work. Repeated removal of leaves did not work. Nothing works. New constellations continue to spread across the yard.
Today’s Dashboard Nature: the spider who lives in my car.
Funnel spider or Wolf spider? Either way, it dashes in and out of the windshield gasket as I drive.
“HELLO!” “GOODBYE!” “HELLO!” “GOODBYE!” etc, super-fast. All the way to school, every day this week.
Today, it stood perfectly still through a red light at Music Row, which led me to imagine I had a chance to catch it. I pulled the car over, but my Spider Tupperware lives in the kitchen, not my car, and all I had on hand was yesterday’s teabag. Luckily, the bag was a nice, roomy pyramid which, I’ve just learned, can be pressed into a dome the perfect size to trap but not squish a car spider.
But, if it’s a Wolf spider, all 8 eyes saw me coming, and if it’s a Funnel spider, all 8 eyes (in a different arrangement) saw me coming; so the spider said “GOODBYE!” before my teabag got halfway there.
“Are you home now??” texted my neighbor. ”I think there’s hundreds or thousands of bees making a nest in our pine tree as we speak. It’s crazy!!”
To me, it wasn’t crazy: it was perfect. Two friends had already witnessed this very thing in their yards recently, and I was jealous. So I texted back: “It’s swarm time!”
By the time I got to my neighbor’s yard, all the bees had gathered in one spot, AS one spot: one big blob of buzzing, crawling, and flying creatures, at about 30 feet up the tree. They looked like a giant dollop of bubbling goo about to drip from a branch.
A honeybee swarm!
I am grateful my neighbor knew what to do: call me, and I am grateful I knew what to tell her: call a swarm-catcher.
To squeeze a Sycamore ball is a seasonal pleasure, and the season is now. Now is when last year’s clusters of Sycamore seeds start to fall and to fall apart. For the next few weeks, they’ll disintegrate into drifting piles of loose, fluffy achenes: Sycamore “snow.”
To squeeze a Sycamore seed-ball is oddly satisfying. Call it a Contemplative Practice. Call it fun or sick or weird, but try it.
The Sycamore Squeeze is one way to get to know Where—and When—you are.
I grew up eating what Mom called wild onion. It showed up in the yard as free food. The long, hollow leaves were good to chew, as were the bulbs, but those were too intense to eat raw unless cheese and crackers were involved.
“Wondering how trees help birds and wildlife survive a Nashville winter?”
That’s the first sentence in my short piece at The Nashville Tree Conservation Corps, called “How Your Tree Helps Wildlife in Winter.” My goal was to highlight “essential services” that only native trees can give to our birds, butterflies, and other animal neighbors.
Even if you already know the answers, take a look? Are there other stories I should have included in the allotted word count? We all want readers to fall in love with what native trees can do.