Yesterday was sunny and mild, a perfect mid-October day. A perfect day to work in the yard. To weed the chronically late paperwhites, encourage tiring daisies, and add a few fall flowers.
My husband had purchased chrysanthemums and pansies on Saturday, so everything was ready and waiting. I started my list with the mower, trimming ragged tufts of grass, sowthistle, and knotweed.
All went well until I decided to clean out the cactus bed, where I wanted to plant the pansies. I soon had a glove full of ants. On my way into the house, to rinse my itchy hand, I spotted an amazingly furry moth on the deck. It was a turning point for my day.
(I would love some help identifying this moth. Is it one of the tiger moths?)
While photographing the moth, I noticed a foul odor coming from underneath the deck. A decomposition kind of reek. After tracing the scent to its strongest point, I traded my camera for a flashlight and began surveying the narrow seams between boards.
By aiming a flashlight just so and keeping one eye aligned just so, the space under the deck can be inspected in six-inch increments. It’s a tedious, back-cramping process, one that I perfected during Indigo’s younger years, when her toys often rolled out of sight. Or got buried.
I located the odor’s source, something furry and lifeless, but it was wedged too far under the deck to reach without removing boards. Two hours later, two boards later, I called animal control for a dead rabbit pickup.
To pass the time while I waited, I went back to the cactus bed and pansies. Three black widow spiders later, I threw down my gloves and retreated into the house, thoroughly disgusted with our stinking, venom-infested yard. (I can’t bear to post another black widow portrait. For those who are curious, previous photos appear here and here.)
By sunset, the dead rabbit was gone and my arachnophobia tremors had eased. I returned to the cactus bed, finished my clean-up work, and planted the pansies. Camera time! Except, as I went inside, something under the still-gaping hole in our deck caught my eye. Yesterday’s rabbit was not the first to die there.
I want to believe these bones pre-date us, that the rabbit died long before we moved in. Because I don’t want our yard to be a death and spider yard.
At least, I don’t want our yard to be only a death and spider yard.
Despite days like yesterday, I can’t love a yard that is all flowers and moths. Such a place would never be truly alive.