strange greenland

Our house sits on a small plat by Seattle standards, nestled above a large, wooded city park that helps the thrumming of downtown (several hills away) more or less fade to the lowest setting and we’re lucky to enjoy just the right amount of space in front and back which provides only enough room for affordable, small-scale gardening and yet certain bigger ideas tend to be more or less scaleable and over time having cobbled a variety of shapes, textures and colors together, with some success I’ve created nooks and crannies to practice with from behind the viewfinder. Also, I enjoy building micro-habitats for critters like birds and bugs although the boys certainly make it tricky sometimes the way they come storming through like bulldozers with their reckless games of wild abandon and I try to be resilient like nature and recover slowly and grow over scars in the land such as when little brother breaks important branches with the training wheels of his bicycle which is probably analogous to haphazard logging in a rich biome.

The front porch is cozy nowadays because of the inexpertly-executed menagerie of maples, bamboos, myrtles and grasses which harbor delightful critters such as gazillions of birds, squirrels, raccoons and some despicable creatures like Norway rats. They’ve all been shortcutting through our yard for years (or just plain setting up shop) and hummingbirds do things like get tired and hang upside down to catch up on their rest while cagey alley-cats try to sneak in through the front door while I’m snipping or plucking and Lucy doesn’t do anything because she can’t hear and her eyes are going (lately she has been missing her bed at night and walking crookedly into the wall).

This bumblebee had taken refuge on waist-high grasses in front of the porch after a particularly stormy afternoon although upon closer inspection the bee is also revealed to possibly be suffering from the ill effects of a sprained foot, perhaps the result of a hard landing on some nearby Passiflora. The green of the background is other grasses. Sometimes I’ll tidy for winter if life is feeling messy but I usually leave everything tangled and brown for birds and then take care of business in late February or early March when cabin fever sets in. I shot this sometime during the summer when the ache in my shoulders was especially bad and I didn’t have the range of motion for fiddling with my balky tripod so I turned my ISO to very high and crossed my fingers in the hopes the resulting exposure wouldn’t resemble a screenshot from an Atari 2600 video game, haha! This has been a good year for bumblebees around the yard, as well as numerous successful rescues (they’ve always been prone to sneaking in through the drafty crevices of our double hung windows, I think the bright blue of our house reminds them of a patch of flowers someplace down in the valley).  Last month in Grandma’s kitchen one evening, she and I balanced on wobbly chairs trying to rescue an enormous bumblebee out of the 1970s ceiling fixture featuring faux-candelabra glass bubbles perched on droopy faux copper filament-thingies which have acquired a patina from decades of humid continental summers, woodsmoke and cat dander (I’m awful when it comes to describing ornamentation and all you really need to know in this case is 1970s) and we were unsuccessfully fending each other off- my shoulders were killing me and the chair wasn’t getting me high enough to funnel the bumblebee out of the already-broken glass fixture and Grandma’s ticker is still getting to full strength and she was straining to get the bee to take a looping left turn into a coffee cup whereupon she was going to cover it with that day’s news and evidently clobber both of us in the process but she ultimately did prevail because little brother needed a back-rub because he was having trouble getting to sleep. At any rate, a long time ago Grandma had Grandpa tie the chain of the fixture in knots higher toward the ceiling after he banged his head on it for the hundredth time (i think he was the reason one of the glass bubblemabobs got shattered) and we just about brought the thing down for good but it was the most beautiful, fluffiest bumblebee you ever saw. We could only cross our fingers and hope the poor bee found a way home in the damp night because Gus the Cat was acting awfully suspicious on the back porch and of course there are tree frogs, spiders and bats aplenty, lurking in the night.

The boys and I were on our own this weekend and last night we listened to Karl Blau songs while baking butterscotch-chocolate chip cookies from scratch and big brother spent this afternoon at a medieval festival.

7 thoughts on “strange greenland

  1. How marvelous that you should study nature intently enough to notice a bumblebee’s sprained foot! And how marvelous too that you should carefully make room for the little things — like birds and bugs and boys — even as the city sprawls a few hills away. Thank you for this beautiful reverie, Jason.

    • I see it all the time, Heather. Sprained bumblebee feet are especially common this time of year, things are getting down to the wire and the first thing to go is the landing. They get an enormous, dusty load of pollen and they’re already tired because they’ve made a bazillion trips back to the nest and the laws of physics simply aren’t the foremost thing on their bee minds……..

  2. I have missed your posts so much.:) It’s good to be back reading. Lance shared the most deliciously delightful tale of an adventure with you on FB today that had my laughing my head off. Had to come over and see how you are. We spent the last several months of our lives, moving to a new home not far down the road. It was a wacky, chaotic time but we’re settling into the new space and there are lots of opportunities to now sit in the quiet and enjoy the little things. You have always had such a wonderful gift for describing them in funny and interesting ways. I always did love to relish your words on a chilly fall Sunday. Like savoring a favorite book, all curled up under a blanket. Here we are again… and I’m so glad.

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