Life on the third rock

A mother robin incubates her three-egg clutch.A friend recently related a conversation in which he mentioned to someone that a certain insecticide has been declared dangerous to humans when used as directed. Roundup has been in the news the past several months, the subject of some court cases involving the cancer- and sometimes death-causing nature of the compound.

“I am very careful with it,” said the gentleman with whom my friend was chatting. “I paint it on the individual plants, rather than spray it.”

“That’s fine,” my friend countered, “but it still gets into the streams and ground water when it rains.”

“I don’t use it in the rain,” the fellow replied, and thus ended the conversation.

It is that time of year when green is the desired color, if not necessarily the practice.

Most of us are so used to doing things a certain way we do not think about the “why” or the “how” of things. We just do. My dad poured Sevin on our cabbages to kill the caterpillars that snuggled into the head and devoured them from the inside. I remember as a teenager thinking the population of cabbage moth caterpillars did not seem appreciably reduced – it still was necessary to disassemble about a third of a head to get past the moth larvae.

Roundup had not yet been invented.

Another thing I learned was to place one or two onions between each deposit of corn seeds to keep elephants from trampling the corn before it grew to their eye level.

We never had a problem with elephants trampling our corn.

Now, of course, our garden is much smaller, but there is no shortage of critter life – mostly birds. I can look out our front window into a robin’s incubating room. She built a nest near the top of a shrub, into which she deposited three eggs – the final one Tuesday.

It was nice of her to build her nest where I could see it with a camera. To avoid pestering her by going in and out, I set up a tripod with a radio control and shoot from inside the house. It will be fun documenting the arrival of a new generation.

Harder to watch are the ones out back: two pairs of House Sparrows and a wren of so far-undetermined ethnicity, all of which have set up housekeeping in convenient, human-provided, opaque residences. One is in a bluebird house on the end fencepost, another in a house over the hot tub, and the third in the wren’s preferred bedroom, a weathered red gourd hanging from a tree.

A late arriving male House sparrow was looking a little randy this week, chasing a not-very-elusive potential lady friend around and through the Silver Maple. Tuesday afternoon, I spotted him checking the interior of a converted lobster trap buoy. A wren was in it last year, but House sparrows delight in establishing ownership of digs for which other species have indicated a preference.

I watched one female evict a would-be bluebird family by removing the eggs from the abode, setting them down close but broken, within a few feet of the house.

The Silver Maple, planted by my mate and her three-year-old, now-17, granddaughter, has followed its genetic instructions and begun to carpet the ground with thousands of helicopter seeds from among the new leaves. The leaves will live another couple months before, come fall, leaving another ring on the parent tree.

It is a slowly excitingly unfolding story of life on a whirling ball of gas and melted rock that fills and forms the third rock from a random star we call Sun.

Thanks for taking me along. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Comments are welcome, and please feel free to share. Please click the “Share” button to share it on social media, or copy the URL and send it to friends and acquaintances you think might appreciate it.

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