Another lyrical blog from Abby, one of our current scholars …
I am watching a tiny lizard climb a cypress tree. His dainty brown body blends in with the bark. He rests for a moment on a small limb. His sides and neck are green. His throat and sides pulsate with every breath. Now he moves into the shade, his body is getting too hot. He scuttles from one side of the tree to another. I assume he is searching for insects. His long tail flicks back and forth as he moves. As i watch, he freezes, he’s staring into a healed wound on the tree trunk. Frozen in time, he stares into the shadows, suddenly a large shadow flicks over his body. Its a jackdaw on the prowl for his own dinner. The tiny hunter becomes prey in a split second. Only speed and camouflage can save him. As quick as a dragonfly he bolts downward to the ground. Ducking, leaping, dodging, the lizard evades death almost effortlessly. Dropping down into the containers of cycads he successfully avoids being eaten. The jackdaw flies off voicing his displeasure with a series of croaks and the noisy flap of wings.
I move my location and sit down on a bench. I am observing life in the Mediterranean section of the garden. Blackbirds scuffle in the leaf litter searching for worms. One is successful and flies away with a beak full of breakfast. The others continue their search. The euphorbias sway gently in the breeze. The oaks and pines hold a whispered conversation in the wind. Clouds of yellow pollen fill the air. Royal purple irises hold court, their rich violet falls accentuated by pale pink markings. Paeonia masculata is blooming beneath the oaks. Earlier in the spring their new growth emerged clenched like a fist, hence the name masculata. These unique peonies have beautiful single pink flowers that are only a few inches high. Soon the pretty petals will fall and become part of the leaf mold that covers the ground. The seeds will develop, drop, and germinate. Next year new plants will be growing, adding to the tapestry of the understory perennials.Lupines are finishing up their grand spring display. Instead of the magnificent carpets of blue and white, the blooms are spotty now. Single plants blossom here and there popping up amid the yellow Mustard. Gladiolus are beginning to bloom, reminding me of my grandmother. One of her favorite plants, these multicolored beauties are striking in their shades of white and red.
My next stop is the Arbutus grove. The smooth red bark, the bell shaped flowers and rich green leaves are an incredible spring exhibition. I enjoy watching the birds flit to and fro among the branches. Its as if they too love this beautiful tree. The sound of rushing water catches my attention and I go and sit in the shade next to a pond. A colorful male kingfisher is busy fishing. His brown and not so colorful mate sits near him on a rock. She too is looking for food. His vivid blue contrasts sharply with his white bow tie. He is quite the specimen! He is also a good fisher, he catches minnow after minnow. Soon he will he catching tadpoles. The frogs croak in the shallows, hiding successfully in the tall reeds that border the pond edge. The orange koi fish swim lazily in the sun warmed water.
A turtle surfaces for a few moments then ducks below a lily pad.
I could never tire of watching the water.
There is so much life, even in the smallest of ponds.
Water is ever changing, moving, rippling, rushing, it’s like fire: hypnotizing. It never ceases to hold my attention.
All too soon, It is time for me to leave this marvelous scene and head home.
As I leave my secluded seat I am reminded of Robert Frost’s lovely poem, “The Road not Taken”
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.