Things weren’t going well. Haven’t been for a long time. Spring chores have fallen far behind. Among other issues, we have had a great deal of rain which grew weeds profusely while keeping me out of the garden. I was beginning to despair of having a garden this year.
Then came Mother’s Day and a convergence of generations–just ahead of the next round of storms.
One family arrived the night before and the other came that afternoon—eight in all. The gardens didn’t stand a chance. They were quickly weeded and planted.
The men hung new shelves and fixed an amazing dinner. Better Half replaced the small wooden ramp with concrete. Youngest son gave me a Blackberry Curve. Youngest Son #2 surprised all the women with flowers. The Grands colored pictures for my “art gallery.”
While Youngest Son’s wife was loading the dishwasher, I thanked her for all the help and reminded her that it was, after all, Mother’s Day and she should take some time off to enjoy it. Whereupon she replied, “That’s okay. I don’t want you to work today because you’re the Supreme Mother.” Well, the room went silent as everyone tried to figure out if she was praising me or cussing me. Either way, I didn’t care because it was followed by the kind of hug a daughter gives when she means “I love you.” And a lot of laughter.
Just a bit more proof of how very spoiled I am. And how grateful I am for it.
The sun, warm and bright, took me by the hand and led me to my gardens. Barren and overgrown, my little gardens hold Spring promise—and debris from the fall harvest and weeds and leaves and trash blown in on the winter’s winds.
When I can find the garden tools that the Grands have played with all winter, I will begin rescuing each container from its barrenness, mix in new life-giving compost, and cover with mulch until the frost is gone and seedlings are grown enough to be outside all night.
In the meantime, I reset the bird feeder poles and filled the feeders to the brim. Cardinals and finches flocked to the garden-side feast. The hummingbirds will be here soon.
Rain will visit a few times during the next week, and the sun will be gone. But today, we had a gentle visit, the sun, my gardens, the birds, and I.
I don’t know much about ladybugs except that “Ladybug” was my daughter’s nickname when she was very young, and it is now a granddaughter’s nickname. Nevertheless, my home is a haven for ladybugs—even on the first of January.
Every fall, they invade the house in hordes. What is the real term for a million ladybugs? Flock? Bevy? Herd? Gaggle? (No, I’m sure “gaggle” is just for geese.) Maybe the term is “Tickle.” That sounds good…a tickle of ladybugs. That’s what they do, you know. Tickle.
From Fall until Spring I find them meandering along the spines of my books, up and down my curtains, across the toe of my shoe. I’ve never seen any damage from their presence. They don’t bite. And they make me smile when we cross paths unexpectedly. So I leave them alone. It’s a peaceful co-existence.
Next Spring they will head back out to my garden and defend it against unwelcome bugs. They will crawl in and out of the leaves and blooms searching for their food—unwittingly pollinating the plants. Until then, I don’t know what they are living on. Not one thing in this house looks as though it’s been nibbled on by a single ladybug.
Every Fall when they first swarm into the house (maybe that’s what you call a million ladybugs: a swarm), there is an adjustment period in which they learn their place in the house. One morning around 4:30 a.m., a ladybug tickled me awake with its meandering march across the top of my left ear. A swat of my hand sent it flying. I have heard the telling crunch of a ladybug under my wheels and even poured them out of my coffee cup with the coffee. It seems to take a few days for them to learn where they shouldn’t be. Then they settle in for the winter and tend to stay just out of reach until the Spring exodus.
The next time the Grands come over, I will give them each a Mason jar and see who can catch the most ladybugs without killing them. Their numbers have dwindled in the past months, so it will be more of a challenge. We will count the captured critters, talk about them being beigey-orange instead of red, and wonder what they eat–all the while we will watch them crawl up and down the glass like restless teenagers looking for something to do. Then we will take the lids off the jars and let the ladybugs find their own way out. We’ll take bets on whose jar will be empty first. The winner gets the first popsicle. Then everyone else will get a popsicle too. Just in time to eat them on the long drive home….
I love ladybugs.