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October 18, 2012 / Rae Spencer

Days Like Yesterday

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.

10 Comments

  1. Gillian / Oct 18 2012 7:29 PM

    Aaww, poor bunny. The only dead thing I’ve ever found in my yard was a House Sparrow. I think she must have flown into the window of the house behind us and fallen into our yard as she was perfectly intact.

    I’m not sure what your moth is. but he sure is pretty!

  2. c to c friendspirations / Oct 18 2012 7:42 PM

    Great photos! Thanks for sharing.

  3. lynnwyvill / Oct 22 2012 8:02 PM

    I have never seen a furry moth like that. Looks cool! Sorry about the dead rabbits. Black widow spiders, ants, and dead animals and you went back to finish yard work? Brave lady! Your photos are wonderful, as always.

  4. bardessdmdenton / Oct 25 2012 3:18 PM

    Did you plant the paperwhites to appear in the fall? And that moth … it looks like ermine fur. Oh, that would be upsetting, finding those dead rabbits. I was upset a few weeks back by a mole having drowned in a watering can. And I do agree that you are brave … venturing out again despite those black widows. I love the way this reflections express the ups and downs of living with and loving nature … just like any relationship, I suppose!

    • Rae Spencer / Oct 25 2012 5:43 PM

      The first time the paperwhites bloomed, it was spring. I transplanted them into the front flower bed that fall, and they bloomed again immediately. Since then they’ve been on a fall schedule…

      • bardessdmdenton / Oct 27 2012 7:37 PM

        I must try that, Rae! Thanks.

        • Rae Spencer / Oct 27 2012 8:35 PM

          I would recommend consulting a gardening guide, before trying to force them into a fall schedule. I had no idea that the paperwhites would bloom after transplanting, so what happened was an accident caused by my lack of gardening experience. And I’m concerned that it may not be good for them. So far they’ve managed to bloom without being interrupted by a hard frost. I don’t think they are going to be so lucky this year…

  5. denimcasey / Dec 14 2012 11:29 AM

    http://www.ozanimals.com/Insect/Tussock-Moth/Lymantriidae%20family/.html
    I am 90% sure you have a member of the Tussock Moth family, there are a couple of varieties 😉 I love these little guys

  6. scb / Oct 26 2016 11:45 PM

    Looks like a Tollype moth.

    • Rae Spencer / Oct 29 2016 2:09 PM

      It does, doesn’t it! Thank you! 🙂

      (Here’s the link I found.) Does it matter that the wing markings aren’t quite the same? I know some species can show a lot of variation in wing patterns, but I can’t find much information for the Tolype moths.

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