Our Natural World
My Road Goes Ever On
Kingdoms of Our World
Our Natural World amazes me on a daily basis and accepting its unpredictability helps me to manage my human world as well.
Of late, I’ve waged a war on carpenter bees, which seem heck-bent on burrowing holes throughout my porch to the point where I have to sweep sawdust off each morning. My attempts at repairing and staining only appear to alter their trajectory, not their aim. Little do they care how much time, money, and energy I’ve put into keeping this house standing.
So I bought carpenter bee traps. I hung the traps and discovered that apparently these flying critters aren’t just battling me—they are battling each other. And they’re battling wasps and flies. Which would be fantastic—if they weren’t turning my porch into kindling.
So I know that once I get the carpenter bees under control, some other bug will come along and fill their nefarious shoes. How ironic is that?
I turn from their incessant buzzing and focus on other winged critters. I love our birds. We have a larger variety this year than ever before. Indigo bunting made nests here, as have swallows, oriels, robins, redwing blackbirds, sparrows, cardinals, blue jays, and a host of other aves friends.
But guess what? They have their battles too. Eagles and hawks dart into ground nests, stealing eggs and hatchlings, vultures crowd around road-kill snipping and snapping, blackbirds chase sparrows from the bird feeder, hummingbirds flit in aeronautic genius, aiming their spear-like beaks at any competition for the nectar supply. And then there are the bird hunters—cats. My fluffy, plaintively-purring-beg-for-a-belly-scratch, quadrupeds turn into malicious bird-killers when I’m not looking.
To be honest, I can’t even count on the weather. I see black clouds mounting in the west, and I think it looks like rain. My 81-year-old neighbor wrinkles her nose, looks about, and tells me, “Na, it’ll pass by.” She’s been right every time so far this summer. My kids advise me to forget the weather station and just ask her for the daily forecast.
When the human race gets me down, I turn to nature for rest and reprieve. But it’s a mixed-bag reality. Like everything else.
Honeybees pollinate, but boy they can sting if I get in their way. Carpenter bees burrow, but they chase away the hornets and flies. The birds chirp, waking me at an hour earlier than I really want to open my eyes, but their colors, air dances, and musical abilities fill my soul with awe.
There isn’t any part of this earthly kingdom that doesn’t involve a battle—for the lives of nestlings, food supplies, homes, and even a little peace and quiet. The cicadas will start this summer—they could rival a jet engine when they’ve got a mind to.
If I were a beast, bug, or bird, I suppose I’d alternate between fear and fury most of the time. But lucky me—I get to be human. And I have the option of being humane.
When the worst of the human kingdom seems to out-battle the animal kingdom, I can stop and consider options. I can admire glorious majesty and deflect danger, repair damage, bury the dead, pray for peace, and soak in the beauty.
I’ll head out to the garden now. God help me. There’s another whole kingdom just waiting…
A. K. Frailey is the author of 17 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
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