a Mary Oliver/Annie Dillard moment

I saw the toad’s sides move slightly in and out with its breathing. I thought, it’s like a poem by Mary Oliver who writes long poems about things like how grasshoppers jaws move. Or it’s like the Annie Dillard essay in her Pilgrim at Tinker Creek book, where she writes more than I thought anyone could about a moment when she confronted a mink (or a muskrat or otter?) and held its gaze for a few minutes. I was cleaning up last year’s stalks and leaves in the back yard, and had been at it for several hours already. I saw a toad hopping desperately out of the way of my heavy shoes. I immediately stopped and sat down to watch it and to take a breather, look around me.  And of course I whipped out my camera!I know I should leave the old stalks and leaves and other duff as mulch, but I just can’t bring myself to follow that advice. Here’s the back yard garden in early April:And here it was a week later with green peeking through here and there:I got out there with my leaf rake and nippers, and it looked nice and neat. This was taken on April 16. Now the daffodils have started blooming and the yard is full of yellow blossoms.In the front yard I raked the top-most small bed:

But for the rest I have allowed last falls’ maple leaf blanket to stay. I did remove stalks, (phlox, peonies, etc.). The daffodils, bluebells, and other plants are having no trouble pushing up through the layer of leaves. It’s hard to resist the rake but so far I’m managing it. When I raked that one part of the top of the front yard, I found a beautiful metallic blue bug:In the back yard I did a little adjustment of a rock wall. When I turned one rock over I found a big spider, which was happily unharmed but so absolutely still that I confess I poked it gently with a twig–sure enough, it was alive but didn’t do more than a little flinch.  I carefully replaced the rock and moved away–after taking a picture!I should carry dimes to put next to things for sizing. Anyway, another beautiful creature we saw in the woods–a small green snake. As usual, the cats teach me about the proper way to enjoy a warm Spring day:The horses are enjoying the new grass.



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