I Love. A lifelong passion for flowers has inevitably evolved into a fond regard for the insects that tend them. I am moved by the endless symbiotic pairings between beings so fundamentally different from one another.

White-lined sphinx moths the size of hummingbirds probe the giant white trumpets of moonflower vines each evening, unfurling questing tongues nearly twice the length of their gaudy, furry bodies.

In the daytime, tiny painted schinia moths visit the indian blanketflowers. Their wings so perfectly match the red-and-yellow ray flowers as they settle to sample the central cone that they effectively hide in plain sight.

Small black ants flock to the sweetness of the peony buds, their under-petal quest for nectar helping to open the heavy, heavenly, honey-scented blossoms.

The pudgy caterpillars of the black swallowtail butterfly feast on the dill, eating it down to the nubs only to have it spring up anew, fluffy and resplendent from the pruning. The adult butterflies migrate a few yards to sip nectar and pollinate the riotous neon zinnias, skipping amid red-orange, royal purple, loud pink and sun-kissed yellow blooms.

Cowboy ants zealously guard grazing aphids on the tender young okra buds, the better to milk them for their sweet honeydew. When one leaf suffers, they move them to greener pastures on the next one.

Sawfly larvae move in and skeletonize the leaves of the black-eyed susans. Their feeding session is intense but brief, thinning the chocolate and golden blooms out just enough to safe-guard them from the mildew that otherwise claims them in wetter years.

The intricate dance between cicadas and their trees is so much more complex than the others. Only this past summer have I have begun to gain insight into what I have been seeing with shallower vision all of my life. When they are not actively courting among the branches and tall grasses, or laying eggs, cicadas are not simply gone, or dormant. They are in larval form through several instars, feeding for years from the roots of trees. Although cicadas are considered parasites of trees, I suspect this view may be short-sighted. The root-feeding is not really a robbery, but a loan, and one which the cicadas will repay with interest.

Sooner or later cicadas become food for trees, birds, mammals, fish, other insects, even people in some parts of the world. The birds and squirrels will grow fat on them and process them into nuggets of fertilizer for the trees and plants. Even the not-so-lucky cicada hunters will be fertilizing the trees as they camp out there in search of a tasty meal.

Squirrels, opossums and raccoons will also carry off nuts and seeds in their cheeks or guts, planting new trees and shrubs. Specialists such as the yellow-billed cuckoo will raise bumper crops of young in the years when cicadas are the most abundant.

Ants and other insect scavengers will gut and carry off vulnerable cicadas, sometimes before the new tenerals can even emerge from their exuvia. Ecstatic with the rich store of fat with which to feed their queens or their young, ants leave scent trails in trees the nymphs favor most. In the process of transporting and patrolling, the ant tunnels help to loosen and aerate the soil, helping the trees to thrive.

Cicada-killer wasps sting cicadas and leave them alive but paralyzed in a burrow along with a wasp egg, to be the perfect food for the hatchling, still fresh when they hatch. Intuiting the gender of the eggs, the mothers leave one cicada for the males, two for the females. Whatever nutrients are left from their feeding will go back to the soil for the benefit of plants and trees. It is a matter of life begetting life.

Now, during the final dying of the insects for this season, the knowledge that I have already heard the last cicada song this year fills me with wistfulness. Although I listened and savored and treasured their music all summer, I am already awaiting their next season like an eager concert ticket holder.

It has been one of the summer’s biggest blessings to learn about and to listen to the annual cicadas, and to gain a more an intuitive grasp for the cycles within cycles. In the complexity of symbiotic relationships, pulling on just this one thread leads me deeper into the web of life, where every thread is precious and crucial to the others.



I Love. I am loved. I am lifted up and swept out into a rainbow sea of the most abundant summer so far. The freakishly warm and capricious winds that marked the early summer have settled into a comforting rhythm of caressing breezes and gentle rainfall. The summer’s cool temperatures have transmuted the grounds and gardens around my little home into a lush, almost tropical paradise. Wandering through with eyes of wonder, I am graced with myriads of brilliant flowers, many of which were gifts of love from beloved family and treasured friends.

Here inside the limestone blocks encircling the kitchen garden, in concentric rings arise the lush heirloom tomato vines, okra, squash and melons. Here also blooms an exuberant fiesta of zinnias surrounded by orange cosmos and lemon marigolds. A network of sky blue, magenta, and deep violet morning glories trade places with the white trumpets of moonflower vines in the early evening. Brilliant red sparks of cardinal creeper and tiny golden flowers of the sunflower vines punctuate the raspberries and herbs. There is a space in the center for viewing shooting stars, for basking in the sun, for private moments undisturbed by the rest of the world.

In the rock garden, blue spires of meadow sage punctuate the billows of silver sage and the blue-gray mounds of santolina. The green and white leaves of the three yuccas have sent their white-flowered spires skyward already. Huge goldenrods are budding in front of a lacy black elderberry, preparing a feast for the butterflies just beginning their long journeys. An ancient buffalo skull is returning to the earth here.

The meditation garden offers four kinds of happiness. A comfortable hand-made red-cedar bench with a rustic fence at its back and a wren house on either side is gathered by the flowing texture of emerald green and yellow-green false-cypress. Overhead arches the sturdy shelter of ancient twin burr oaks. Across the smooth, weather limestone path and tiny river rocks, a ring of japanese forest grass and a tiny pool of water forms a ring of serenity beneath the deep burgundy stars of a japanese maple. Dragonflies and other insects fly in to bask here. Small birds, toads, frogs, salamanders, lizards and snakes share this bounty with Serena the cat, but only while she is drowsing.

A glider below the eaves of the house is sheltered from the elements and offers both rocking motion and arousing color. The startling blue blossoms of the butterfly tree, neon pink roses, white mandevilla trumpets and blazing crimson passionflowers dance in the slightest breeze to the major key melody of the wind ciimes. A view through the open gate extends over a field of alfalfa to a distant oak, with fields of gold beyond.

Opposite the glider drifts a forest green porch swing, with old fashioned, comfortable curves. It reminds me of the one my parents courted on at my mother’s parents home. Sweetly scented by potted jasmines, with occasional wafts of honeysuckle and mimosa drifting over the roof from other side, it gives the best view of the tangerine/fuschia bracts of the bougainvilleas along the fence. Tibetan prayer flags stir above the red front door.

From indoors, the beauty of this garden is enframed by the norfolk island pines before the picture window, where I can enjoy it year round.

All is in motion among the trees in the yard. Cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, robins, finches, and hummingbirds have all nested and raised young, some having more than one brood this year. The younger sets are still sporting their protective drab feathers, the older ones growing bright patches as they practice songs and show off for their siblings. The baltimore orioles bring their babies to the nectar feeders outside the kitchen window to show them how to feed, as do the black-chinned hummingbirds. The ruby-throated hummers are just appearing again now after summering farther north.

By mid-morning, iridescent green june beetles careen through the pink silks of the mimosas. By early evening, the white-lined sphinx moths take over the white rose-of-sharons, darting in and out, dipping with their long tongues. Small bats come out, swooping between the trees, and the night sparkles with fireflies. The balmy air is filled with the passion of annual cicadas, drowning out the crickets and all but the loudest of katydids. They speak to me.

To embody love I must open myself wholly, give a new shape and my unique vibratory signature to the abundance streaming in through my senses and my body. As long as I am living in the now, I am in an utterly new world. Written in my physical form are ancient cycles, and yet how very precious each new breath tastes. What will I sing with my life?



I love. I so relish hibernating through the winter in the loving embrace of Earth, warmed by the loving gifts of Sky. Throughout this time of regeneration I have had visits from friends and have been blessed by angels. It seems that so often they are one and the same, a discovery that lends a special anticipation to making new friends.

I have also spent days in complete solitude. I have relearned to love it, and to embrace it. I recognize it now as a vital part of recharging and learning more about myself and my relationship to all that is.

Sometimes, most times, my chi is abundant and my aura is filled, and I am a vessel for light and love living in an ocean of light and love. But once in awhile I still feel the wound in the back of my heart center, and feel the cold whistling up my spine. However, as I spend time blissfully soaking in the increasing solar radiance, small arroyos of depression are farther between. The best remedy still is to remind myself of how truly and continually I am blessed.

Grape hyacinths sent up their grass-like leaves last fall, and they are winter-burned to spirals at the tips. Crocuses are late. The harbingers of spring this year are teeny blue irises by the native limestone that serves as my front walk. Called “Harmony,” they stand just four inches high, as much flower as stalk. They are two weeks later than usual, but all the more welcome for it. I see the tips of the other hyacinths just peeking out of the ground, a few brave tulip leaves, and daffodils that budded up right around our last hard freeze but then decided to bide their time.

Robins have been back for three weeks, ring-neck turtle doves have returned, and still-drab sprinklings of finches jostle impossibly red cardinals at the feeders. Flocks of redwing blackbirds come through, sing their whirring watersongs for a day, and travel on. House wrens are warbling their purest love, more music than bird, and scouting for nest sites.

Occasional balmy breezes bring rivulets of soil aromas. The scent of rain no longer hints at snow. I inhale and feel stronger and more alive with each breath. The sweet throbbing of life surfacing again in such abundance is my wakeup call. Embody love. Be ready.


Tree Light

I love. When I come in shivering from the icy wind, I love the mesmerizing radiance of the wood stove. Such a fire is a wonderful companion. Fire knows how to love fiercely, but also tenderly in the right setting.

There is a ritual satisfaction in birthing a fire. I wipe the soot from the inside of the glass, and polish the cathedral doors of the fire church to perfect clarity so the fire and I can see one another clearly.

Once I have laid up the wood, the sulfury rasp of a wooden match kisses up a cheerful blaze. It unburdens me of old news, old cedar shingles, and bits of house no longer relevant, As it licks up the arms of mulberry and oak, it breathes on its own and begins the shining dance.

Tree light talks, it whistles, pops, and never sings the same tune twice, but one which is precious and rare. It responds to music, to vibration, to the sound of my voice, re-patterning.

The warmth is magnetic to my cat, Serena. Although the first time I lit up the wood stove, she gave me one quisical look, a second terrified look, and then fled the house, now she will not willingly leave the hearth rug or my lap while a fire is going. She, too, can stare into it for hours, purring meditatively.

Each new fire evokes other fires I have known: camp fires, sacred fires, wood stove fires, forest fires, candle flames. The smokey scent adds to the romance of the element, with its promise of comfort and survival. Gazing deeper into its heart I look for fire kachinas dancing, spinning and touching down so lightly. I search for salamanders slithering about unburnt. I remember the Yoruba priestess reading embers to know the future, fortelling that I would have a daughter as well as a son. I was warmed by the promise, though the rest of the prophecy was clouded.

The dancing light and shadow is is soothing. Star light delayed by the leaves, frozen for a lifetime in the trees finally delivers the sun's message. I am synchronizing with pulsations of star love, tree love, air love. I feel it in my heart, absorb it into my soul. They have gifted me with an extension of my little life in the middle of the dark and frozen prairie. I am grateful for the blessings of my little home, and my larger Earth home, tonight.

Photo and video courtesy of www.thelope.com.