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Backyard life and death

They always say farm kids have a nice awareness of death. Perhaps more of an appreciation for what it takes to put food on the table. The circle of life and all that.

Twice this summer, the drama of nature has taken place precariously close to humans in our side yard. This time, I'm hoping happier results, too.

The first was a caterpillar who hitched a ride on one of the flaps of the cardboard box they put our farmshare veggies in to bring home. He was a cute little green guy probably destined to turn into a pestilential moth rather than a beautiful butterfly. He was covered in white fuzz and seemed to be ready for a long nap inside. Wiggling just a bit when disturbed from what he thought was a safe, dark spot. We're supposed to keep the box from week to week anyway...bring it back to the delivery and reuse it. So we stuck a post-it note on it and put it under the back stairs hoping for a quiet journey for him.

The next thing we saw of that box, however, it was sitting in the dumpster and one of our neighbors either didn't read the note or didn't care.

Now, a mantis has taken a liking to our charcoal grill. A very green version sticking to one leg a few days ago. She hasn't moved other than possibly falling off in a recent thunderstorm. But she's now very brown and showing a bit more signs of life despite being on the concrete.

Every time we pass we wonder what her fate will be. So this morning, I took a rock and scooped her up into the hostas around a tree. They sit in a rock-protected elevated flower bed. I know I probably shouldn't move an insect clearly going through some phase of her life cycle. But between the building's dogs, the foot traffic, and our neighbors who may take a broom to her, I feel like she stands a better chance somewhere less obvious.

You can't hurry nature, but she needs to try. At least the cicada on our porch pole is already gone. Not to mention that bunnies and squirrels have sometimes needed to learn the danger lessons the hard way. More than once our retired racing greyhound, Kieran, has come to the back door with a mouthful of prey.

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