I am officially on vacation! So why, you might ask, am I out walking around in my yard at 6:30 in the morning instead of curled up in bed as my sweet and sensible wife is? Well, two reasons really. Firstly, I like getting outside in the morning to hear the wrens chirp, the cardinals sing, and the pheasants crow. It is one of the rare times of the day where nature has the upper hand on man and it is interesting to see what it feels like to be “just another guy” in this vast and complicated community. And, secondly, I have been getting up at 4:30 AM Central time every day of my last four-day trip and for some reason, as I get older, it is hard to adjust the knob on that old internal clock. But as my retired dad, who insists every day is Saturday, can tell you, there are compensations for getting older, too.
What I found in my garden, yard and little prairie this morning was nothing short of disgusting. There were brazen exhibitions of sex everywhere with plants openly fornicating with each other, lewd tendrils and vines slithering everywhere, insects “getting it on” or trying to, and pollen enough everywhere to literally make your eyes water.
People talk a lot about Spring but this is truly the exuberant time of the year. It is when the plants and animals live it up (I’m thinking of those raccoons who harvest my sweet corn for me just about one day before it is perfectly ripe) and the more sober members of the community (honeybees) work their little tails off saving up for the long Winter ahead.
I find these plants and animals to be uncanny metaphors for a lot of the people we encounter every day. You have the spendthrifts who live on the edge of solvency and depend on the good will and hard work of others. We all have coworkers like this cowbird who lays her eggs in the carefully constructed and maintained nest of another bird and lets the other couple raise her young.
There are the careful and diligent savers, like the honeybees, who “make hay while the sun shines” and set aside part of their bounty for that cold and rainy day to come.
We have the extrovert; the tiny little Wren who sings exuberantly from whatever stage he can find. And then there is the hermit- the mole who humps up mounds in my yard but makes his solitary way, never showing his face in public.
There are the heartless killers: the spiders, the snakes, mantis. And there are the useless parasites on society. Owww! Damn mosquitos!
And finally, there are the “twenty-seven club” members of our natural community who live fast and die young; mayflies and Japanese Beetles come to mind.
But whether these creatures are borrowers or lenders, shining stars or wallflowers, this time of year is truly when nature’s fancy turns to thoughts of sex. Not all, but most, creatures and plants have figured out that exchanging DNA is a pretty good strategy for perpetuating the species and maybe a bit of fun, too.
by: Dustin Joy
all photos by: Dustin Joy