it’s time again…to share

“When someone steals another’s clothes, we call them a thief.
Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not?
The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry;
the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it;
the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes;
the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”

Basil the Great


(a freshly watered monarch butterfly caterpillar, who happens to be eating the
new baby parsley / Julie Cook / 2017)

In the waning days of summer, as the humidity races skyward to meet the relentless
midday sun, those once ever hopeful potted plants and herbs…
those once oh so spry, succulent green and promising beauties, are one by one,
beginning to loose the will to survive.

A southern sun will do that to you.

The dill has long gone to seed as have the parsley and the basil.
Drooping, drying out and dying is the current game of the summer garden party.
As it’s really just time to cut things back, pull things up and simply
hang on for a couple of more months until the heat just might slowly begin
to retreat.

This tiny new parsley plant hasn’t got nary a chance now that the monarch caterpillars
have found it.

Despite my watering, they remain unfazed…
eating and constantly devouring around the clock until everything is gone…
as they fatten themselves up, preparing for the time of transformation…

Because who can complain about the birth of a butterfly….


(all images of both the Monarch and or Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars /
Julie Cook / 2017)

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Hebrews 13:16

prayers and parsley

“Prayer is not asking.
Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God,
at His disposition,
and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

Mother Teresa

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world
the Master calls a butterfly.

Richard Bach

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So as I leave you today…
taking dad to the hospital,
readying ourselves to hurry up and wait…

I ask for your prayers…
Prayers for a peace…
a peace of mind, body and soul…

and for smooth sailing…

Just as I leave these guys finishing up my parsley for the season…
sigh…

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(22 tiger swallowtail caterpillars devour my parsley / Julie Cook / 2016)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Pests and pleasantries

It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly. And it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.
Epicurus

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(dangling sweet gums balls / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(a tent caterpillar / Julie Cook /2015)

Busying myself with yard work a few days back, I rounded a corner of the house when I spied
this fuzzy little stripped fellow clinging to the brick.
Suddenly I was 8 years old again. . .

Spying the first caterpillar of the season, or it could have been the first lightening bug,
I made a mad dash inside frantically searching for a jar.
And since I couldn’t find any empty jars sitting around, I scoured the cabinets and the refrigerator.
Begging my mother to scoop out all of the mayonnaise from the jar that was sitting in the fridge, as I was in desperate need of that particular jar as it was the perfect size you know, just big enough to reach one’s 8 year old hand down into in order to place the necessary sticks and straw. . .
I could never understand my mother’s overt reluctance to give up the jar.
How hard could it be to scoop out the mayonnaise putting it in a bowl??

I needed it washed and dried.
I would then need the icepick.
“What?” I can still hear my mom shriek followed by a resounding “NO.”
Much to my mother’s fears. . .did she not understand that
I had to poke holes in the top of the jar.. .
Even caterpillars, or fireflies, needed to breathe, I thought everyone knew that.

My collected caterpillars, much to my chagrin, never turned into butterflies.
How was I suppose to know that these guys were not of the butterfly variety?!
Sadly I was attempting to raise moths.
And not the beautiful lunar month mind you but more like a devastating pest.
For my caterpillar was known as a Tent Caterpillar.

Tent caterpillars.
Have you ever seen a tree with a mass of white webbing covering large sections of limbs?
As in, there are hundreds of these ravenous critters inside that white gauze,
waiting to come out as moths. . .yet it is the caterpillar who is very hungry. . .
as in no leaf is safe. You know, as in everything you’d prefer to keep in tact and whole,
gets consumed by hundreds of creepy crawlies.

While way up high, nearly touching the sky
resides the sweet gum ball.
Currently a brilliant light green ball which dangles, like a thousand little earrings, from the branches of the tree.
As time passes, come the Fall of the year, these tender green balls turn spiny and brown, falling to the ground.

A sweet gum tree can grow as tall as 100 feet and is a most hardy and prolific tree.
It is a rapid grower and actually possesses a rather pleasant sweet aroma discovered
upon crushing a few leaves between one’s fingers.
And. . .it is a favorite tree of the tent caterpillar.

Eradication means cutting the wrapped up limbs and disposing of them before it’s too late.
The caterpillars are also very dangerous to horses who graze in areas where tent caterpillars roam.
Mares who consume tent caterpillars are likely to become infertile and pregnant mares are at great risk for losing folds.
Who knew?!

The happenstance of seeing this single caterpillar immediately transported me to a different time and place. . .a place full of wonderment and joy. I wasn’t thinking that I was gazing upon a pest who needed to be immediately disposed of before he and his thousands of minions, wherever they may be, devoured a tree. . .

Rather I was back at a certain place and time relishing the simple pleasures of life. It was a time when Nature, with all that she had to offer to an 8 year old child, was something to be savored and enjoyed.
For it was through the lens of a child that I looked upon this current-day pest—
I was seeing it not as a ravenous creepy crawly but as the fond recollection of youth.
Happily, for that brief moment in time while busily working in the yard, upon this momentary encounter, all that came flooding back in that single moment was a warming sense of contentment as happiness washed over me like welcoming wave on a hot summer’s day.

Here’s to childhood, caterpillars and the joy of Spring. . .

AAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

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I suppose everyone heard my scream–my cry of panic and alarm this morning as I went outside to water my containers of herbs– as my gaze settled in on these voracious, uninvited, “guests”!!
“Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars”….I run inside the house screaming. My husband thinks I’m being attacked by killer bees as I tell him that my dill is about to be eaten to the bone.

“Just kill them” he tells me, none too concerned over the plight of my herbs “No, you don’t understand! You can’t kill butterflies to be!!”
I had this problem last year, as they decimated my dill and parsley overnight. I thought surly I wouldn’t have to worry about them coming back until late Summer, early Fall. OOOOHHHHH Me–oh woe is me. They will just have to finish my plants off, hopefully by then they will want to become full and fat cocoons. When they do their cocoon thing, I’ll just have to plant some more herbs–perhaps I need to look into how long a caterpillar stays a caterpillar.

Right now there are but two. Last year there were 12. Maybe may odds are increasing….but I think I failed to mention the mole holes I’ve found…..
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