Friday I was at the beach and the green heads were plentiful. I don’t like killing. I especially don’t like killing tiny mamas trying to get blood to make babies, but I admit I was just about to. Then I saw a Robber fly (probably Efferia albibarbis) go after one of the green heads. It failed, then grabbed another. I felt a bit like I’d been saved by this tiny hero. I was glad I let the fly go to a good use. I thought about the fact that I prefer one life over another, and that the life I prefer is one of a predator; not a parasite who just takes a bit of blood, but a predator who kills. It’s hard to watch one creature kill another, no matter who they are; Yet when it comes down to it, the animal world is all about one life consuming another. Oh to be a plant and live off sun, or a bee and live off nectar. But even the plant and the bee are getting vital nutrients through soil and nectar that come from decomposing creatures. We are constantly consuming lives of other beings. If we let go of the idea that we only live as individuals, then you could say we all live on as long as there is life on earth. There is a great song about this titled “we will live again”. I think about this as my almost fourteen year old dog is struggling for breath in the heat… as the mosquitoes bite me and her… as I sit down to eat egg and lettuce and olives and wheat and some other beings on my plate… as the catbird hunts for insects. We are part of one big flow of life eating and being eaten, living and dying and living again.

Watched a honey bee on milkweed and soon after saw a bee mimic robber fly with a honey bee.

(all Photos and text on this site: Rebecca Arnoldi)

Sometimes the brilliance is tiny and hidden. If we look carefully and patiently beauty may surprise us, OOp….it’s everywhere.. (Milkweed Beetle, Lady Beetle, and Leafhopper on milkweed- Rebecca Arnoldi July 2020

Ants hang out around scale insects and other insects that suck plant juices. They feed on their sweet “honeydew” secretions. ¬†They also sometimes feed on the insects themselves, helping the plant in this way. These are on Rosa Rugosa.

Horsechestnut flowers change color after being pollinated so that they are no longer attractive to their pollinators.

We talk about individual organisms as if there were such a thing. We are made of many. When we look at another organism, we look at an interdependent intertwining group. We need the bacteria inside us, the insects need the plants and the plants need the insects. We all need each other. If you, or I, ever feel lonely, we can remember we are always filled and surrounded by other beings. We are we.

Photo of insect (likely ladybug) eggs on Rosa rugosa by Rebecca Arnoldi

Today I don’t feel clear and bright and open to the sky like the leaves of grass in sunlight. Today I feel more like the dark deep shadowy soil and the violet that grows out of it. Veins looping a flow of sugar and water through thick heart-shaped jagged leaves and thin high stems. Purple petals hold sweetness. Some face the sky, some face the intimate earth.

Why do so many people hate this plant?

Garlic mustard like other “invasives” came from afar (Eurasia in this case). It thrives here and can take over an area. This plant, like many other “invasives”, grows well in areas disturbed by us. It’s roots put out a chemical that damages mycorrhizal fungi that other plants depend on. And deer don’t eat it.

BUT

Don’t worry if you have garlic mustard growing around you. It’s edible! And while it may be bitter it’s super high in vitamin C, E, Zinc, omega -3 fatty acids, calcium and iron.

I just had my first garlic mustard salad! The vinegar, oil and salt helped mitigate the bitterness.

If you do collect some to eat, don’t go too crazy, it has some compounds that might not be good for you in excess.

I say, let’s celebrate this resilient survivor from afar and let’s have some salad!

sources/ resources:

Peter Del Tredici, Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast; John Kallas, Edible Wild Plants

I guess you could say we all feed from the sun and are ultimately made of sunlight.

My dog was digging around in brambles and leaf litter. Then I saw her 13 year old self wagging her tail with the excitement of a puppy, looking into the fenced garden wanting something. I followed her gaze and saw one, two, three, four babies, eyes closed, white fur stars on their heads. One shivered in the shadows, opened its eyes and began to slowly wobble toward sunlight. Its difficulty moving and vulnerability echoed reminded me of elder mammals, even humans. I guess we are most vulnerable at the beginning and end of our lives.

I can only guess what happened before this sleepy moment in the garden, or what will happen later. I wish the tiny creatures luck, knowing that if all rabbit babies survived, there would be no violets. Good luck to all of the spring babies, including the rabbits, the foxes, the coyotes, the hawks and the violets.

Elm buds (Photo by Rebecca Arnoldi)

Parts of a whole can seem completely separate. Humanity is experiencing social separation. This common experience unites us. We are truly alone together. And while socially separate from other humans we may as well go deeper into our connection with the plants, animals, and other life forms that surround us.

Some of the blossoms have five petals opening to pollinators and bright yellow stamens offering pollen to the world. Others have lost their petals and their stamens have reddened, no longer singing to the bees.

I want to share what I see. I’m always hoping that someone else will get it. That my exploration will also be communication, existing in an overlapping sphere of perception and awareness. I sometime fail, and so a brilliant silence is held in my heart.