Flowers bloom only to fade, honeybee drones die in fall, squirrels store up food, mice seek warmth, my closet slowly turns to long sleeve tops and sweaters, and the air becomes intoxicating as it turns crisp and clear, so sharp it almost hurts my nose.

There is a pumpkin growing out of our cucumber plant. We didn’t plant it and at first I thought it was a deformed cucumber, but it’s a pumpkin. I am excited about this, thrilled about the surprises my garden offers each and every year, like the sunflowers and tomatoes that grow in the alley. The things that arise naturally, via the wind or a bird are the plants that provide me the most joy. When I discover a new variety that I did not plant, I feel like nature has smiled upon me.

I write this to the sound of morning crickets loudly chirping and birdsong in the sky above. The bees have been busier than ever and wasps have begun to build a nest below the stones in our fire pit like they did last year. A few nights ago, Rob and I sat outside and watched the wasps one by one enter in the exact spot carrying something before they burrowed.

We have regular hummingbird visits, usually in twos, and it seems they are competing for the sunset hyssop. One bird will be hovering, drinking nectar and the other will fly high into the sky before nose diving straight for the other. They appear to chase one another before resting on a tree branch or my dragonfly sculpture. I think they are courting with this dive display. When I was pruning the bee balm, one buzzed right along side me and one evening another hovered in the air inches from Rob’s face. This is also the first year I’ve seen a hummingbird at rest, still on the tiniest of legs. Did you know that hummingbirds cannot walk? 

Sunset Hyssop

We have hummingbird moths in our garden that arrive each evening. The first time I saw this strange flying creature, I was astounded. Too small to be a hummingbird, but its wings fluttered in the same way. I searched until I found a picture of what I had seen. The moth is not a creature I would consider beautiful, it’s body short and squat and without the luminescence of a true hummingbird, and it tends to favor flowers that the hummingbird doesn’t pay as much attention to, like catmint. One flew at me as if to warn me away when I was pruning my sunflowers and though I knew it would not bite or sting, I was alarmed and cut my pruning short. Hummingbird moth sightings are supposed to be a rare occurrence, but not in our garden.

Sadly, I pruned my sunflowers and cone flowers far too early this year. The beautiful cone flowers had decayed and become flattened by either rain or the raccoons and were lying on the ground. My sunflowers were leggy and tangled in our swing, messily lying down in the grass as well. It was time, but I hated cutting their life short. This, too, provides learning. Next year I will try to pay more attention so I can solve the problem earlier.

We had Japanese beetles this year for the first time. They ate their way through our neighbors grape vine and began nibbling on my roses. That was when I declared war. No one destroys my most loved roses. I remember how these pests decimated trees back east and so we are aggressively working to limit their damage.

We had a woodpecker for some time who would peck at our solar panels every morning, but I haven’t heard from him in some time. When we heard him, we would walk outside and yell “Hey!”

Yesterday as I sat on the couch recovering from Covid, I watched squirrels in the maple tree out front. Two sat on a branch directly in front of me and took turns nibbling on one another’s back and neck. When another squirrel tried to join the party, he was chased away from the base of the tree.

I find holes all over the yard, squirrels getting ready for fall, hiding food.Watching their antics is a favorite activity of mine–they are smart, nimble and entertaining as they eat hanging upside from a tree.

The bee hive out front is busy and though the days have been scorching as of late, fall is in the air in the mountains and I can’t wait. 

The honeybees work to prepare for winter and I have to be careful when I walk barefoot on the patio, as the dead on the patio multiply, likely drones.

My studio door is open which is right next to the catmint that pulsates with buzzing and occasionally leads a bumblebee inside where far too often he or she perishes on the high windowsill. It breaks my heart to see them flinging themselves against the window when their escape route is just below via my open door. The windows are high and I cannot reach them to help.

The bees and the raccoons are the only living things that visit the birdbath. My hope had been to observe the bird life from my studio window, but to this date, I haven’t seen a single bird in the bath. Some mornings, the bath is full of mud and I suspect the raccoons came by and I often fish out bees who get submerged in the water. I used to have colored stones shining below the water, but after one too many rodents decided to play with them, scattering them on the ground, I took them out.


A few nights ago we enjoyed the cooler air of evening on the patio and saw something move near the vegetable garden. It took a moment for us to realize a field mouse had been trying to climb into the garden, only to fall before quickly jumping into the developing pumpkin path. Seconds later another mouse ran towards the pollinator garden.

Last year we had returned home from dinner out on a hot summer’s evening to witness a mouse running in circles out in the open before he broke and ran towards us. Brain damage or illness or the cats that like to hang out in our yard must have been the cause. The sight was terrifying to witness and Rob said if he saw that again, he would put the creature out of his misery instantly. But we hadn’t seen any mice until that night.

I watched a bunny run for his life in front of the hydrangeas only to hide behind my studio. Call me strange, but I slowly walked until in earshot and said, don’t worry baby, I won’t harm you. You are safe here.

But they aren’t safe. Hawks and owls are prevalent in our neighborhood as well as hunting cats and though I might not like to think about it, this is the natural cycle of life.

Flowers bloom only to fade, honeybee drones die in fall, squirrels store up food, mice seek warmth, my closet slowly turns to long sleeve tops and sweaters, and the air becomes intoxicating as it turns crisp and clear, so sharp it almost hurts my nose.

My life has a cycle as well. I am in a transitional phase like the life I observe; somewhere between letting go of a career for the purpose of income and moving towards a creativity that feeds me and will not likely provide financial sustenance. The opportunity to share with others the things I see is glorious and soul-feeding if not a money maker.

How blessed am I; my garden provides a front row seat to the cycle of life.