My front porch and the garden that my wife, Mary, has constructed over the years have often been places where nature tries to take away space from us mere mortals. In this setting of such beauty, I have been exposed to danger three times from the same species of creature.
Below are my garden accounts of up close and personal encounters with that creature.
The sunlight was just pushing its way through the morning stillness when I stopped in my tracks to remove a long piece of wood entangled atop the massive red mum. The mum had grown into a massive structure of plant fiber and color some two feet wide by six feet long and 2 feet high.
Thinking just how the piece of wood looked totally out of place nestled within the bed of soft spoken rain drops and fiber of the morning rain, I reached toward it.
To my surprise, the stick rose up on small powerful legs. In an instance my human world was being confronted by an alien creature, the kind sometimes found in late night B-movie monster movies.
Its common name was "Praying Mantis." For more on this creature from another dimension go to http://www.theprayingmantis.org/
This unusual creature was almost 10 inches long, with strange eerily eyes that looked as if it was seizing you up for a morning snack. Slowly I pulled back my hand out of the danger zone of alien attack.
For a fraction of a second, our two worlds merged. He, testing me for any new threat, and me, wondering at the beauty of nature and its ability to inflict pain or danger to me.
Sensing that I was not going to eat it, the creature slowly backed away from me and disappeared into the color of the flowers, never to be seen again.
Kittens to the Rescue
One spring night, Mary, our two kittens, Rommel, the blue eyed inscrutable Siamese, and Mosby, my Maine Coon, who firmly overcame my initial resistance to adoption, and I found ourselves being held in our place by a large green creature in front of our back door.
There in front of us was a green stick that rose up 10 inches on its back legs and confronted the two kittens. Swaying back and forth as if it were a king cobra, the praying mantis dared the Maine Coon or the Siamese to advance. The green stick was new to the world of the kittens and after a few seconds of back porch-next to the garden stand off drama, the creature retreated into the underbrush of the garden. The kittens although shaken by the encounter still acted the winners of the silent battle of wills.
After an August that was the wettest on weather records, our front yard, side yards, gardens, and all other potted plants of or near our front porch, thrived in the lush reality of having so much water invade their world. So, in my wanderings around the front porch, just after the mail had been delivered and I stopped next to an oversized eight foot tall palm tree to lean on the concrete pillar when I realized that I was not alone.
Once again a rather mean looking green stick stared back at me as if to say, "this is my porch, now beat before I call out my entire family of monster creatures, hiding in the flowers, just waiting to drag you off into some darkened cave only visited by horror movie cameras and monsters."
In that instance, I felt it and I had come to a common understanding that I should take my Wall Street Journal and find some other part of the porch to perch on.
Nature has a way of letting us mortals know just how things work
in the wilds of porches and flower beds.