Letter from Birdland | Changes show life is a process

Letter from Birdland | Changes show life is a process

Yesterday, a front came through Birdland, sweeping away the heat. Gayle came for a walk just before sunset, and we delighted in the cool breeze. She brought another load of plants from her yard — white peonies, vinca and black-eyed Susans. You can never have too many Susans.

My friend is always digging and rearranging her yard, and Birdland is one beneficiary of her bounty. This morning is still cool, and I will try to catch the morning for digging.

Garlic scapes are curling out of the plants, and I will cut them today to make a pesto and maybe season my roasted vegetables tonight. I discovered by accident several years ago that when I cut the scapes, the garlic bulbs grow fuller. I'm sure that advice is readily available, but I had never run across it.

Instead, I found a recipe that sounded good. I didn't even know you could eat the tender scapes cut fresh from the spray of leaves before they bloom. I had always let them open, because I liked the little pearls of tiny bulbs that come.

Oh look! Free garlic! I would plant the pearls again and use them in soups. What I didn't know was how much energy they took from the developing bulbs underground. The year I first harvested garlic scapes, my bulbs were full and juicy when I dug them. Before they had always been hard little pebbles, hardly worth peeling for a stir-fry. I had blamed the soil or my own neglect.

We are between blooms in Birdland. The oxeye daisies have wilted away, and the Peonies have kept their color as they dried to crepe petals on the stem.

Between blooms, unless you count the tadpoles. Michael had been setting the brick border around the new pond that he dug. My husband is always working on something. Several weeks ago, he called me out to look, and there was a pair of toads in the pond, piggybacking. They were there every day, or maybe a new pair was taking their turn.

Meanwhile, our pond plants were waking from a long winter, and Michael would call me to come see that the lily had sent up a new pad or that the water iris leaves were now poking out a few more inches from the water.

A few weeks later, he came to find me and led me out to the pond. I figured he would show me that the cattail was sending up shoots, but that was yesterday's news. In the water swam hundreds, no, thousands, of tiny tadpoles. They were just little specks in the water, with furiously thrashing tails. We envisioned a plague of toads hopping all over the yard, but Michael did some research and found that only a fraction of the tads would survive to become toads. (I'm actually hoping for frogs, too, but all the piggybacking couples we saw looked like toads to me. I do hear frogs singing in the evening, so maybe we will get some frogs as well.) And sure enough, every day the population seemed to have thinned, even as the tadpoles grew bigger.

It was fun to watch them grow fat, and then grow legs. The first time I saw a tad with legs, I thought it had three tails. I looked closer, and found more and more with the extra tails. The tadpoles were deep in metamorphosis.

Then, yesterday, I saw my first toadlet. Three, actually. They were sunning on a lily pad, and at first, I thought they were little pieces of bark or twigs that had fallen from the tree above. They were the size of a housefly and looked like knobby pieces of dark wood, glistening from the water.

I kneeled to get a closer look ... and they looked back! I saw their tails were just nubbins, and they sat on the pads and watched.

Every morning, we find something new, and this time of year the changes seem to come faster than ever. Changes sudden or gradual, joyful or devastating, all show that life is a process. We are always in flux and in transformation, and I'm grateful to be on this journey.

Transform in beauty; propagate peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is interesting in all the variation in the world around her. You can follow Birdland on Instagram (@BirdlandLetters) and Twitter (@BirdlandLetters). Mary can be reached at letterfrombirdland@gmail.com or via snail mail care of this newspaper.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (3):Environment, People, Pets