I think the thing that comes next for me after reading is gardening. I've always liked dallying around with nature.
I have pictures of me Somewhere there exist pictures of me as a little kid in my grandma's flower bed, me holding a mushroom the size of my head, me holding a wild baby rabbit, something which I'm sure was not good for either of us! My cousins and I used to run around our grandparents' property, picking wild onions to give to my grandma. I don't know if she ever actually ate them, but, in proper Grandma fashion, she was always super excited about receiving them. I used to take my mom's square baking pans outside and build miniature landscapes in them. I would get hunks of moss to lay out as the grass and then I would pick flowers, usually crocuses (croci?) to stand up between the hunks of moss as trees, and then I would keep it watered until the flowers died. I'm sure this thrilled my mom to no end. Maybe that's why I don't remember having brownies very often growing up.
Nowadays, I just enjoy being outside and seeing what plants do. I like to watch them grow and unfold, as you saw here. I know this is going to be to my detriment some day, but I also like to touch plants. I just want to pet them. Actually, this has already been detrimental to me, but only mildly so. I visited a cactus/succulent garden (yeah, you can see where this is going, right?), then had to pick my husband up from the airport. The conversation on the way home went something like this:
Me: I don't know. It feels like I have a sticker in my finger.
Hubby: Bunny [because that's what he calls me]. Did you try to pet the cactus at the garden?
Hubby: Bunny. Reeeeaaally?
Here's the thing: I was very careful about what I touched. I picked up a prickly pear (leaf? node? paddle?) off the ground to check it out, but I made a point of not grabbing any of the pokey parts, so I don't know where the sticker came from. :(
Anyway...I also like to read about plants and how they grow and what works well together and what kind of insects do what. It's just really cool to see how interconnected everything is in nature. Two books that I really like are Roses Love Garlic: Companion Planting and Other Secrets of Flowers and Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Honestly, I don't know if the science behind these books is any good or not, but I think it's fascinating. Another book that I enjoy which offers advice I have tried and had much success with is Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding! I have put in two flower beds using this method, and they were both quite successful. One was a moon garden-all white flowers and white/gray foliage so that you can see it at night by the moonlight (I believe this is covered in the Roses Love Garlic book)-and one was just a couple of plants that I threw into my front yard, not realizing that my front door would soon be completely overgrown!
list of other insects that are beneficial to your garden. Sometimes the worst looking ones are the most beneficial! I took this picture the other day when I was outside trying to read. I kept getting distracted by all the yelling in the neighborhood (it was Super Bowl Sunday) and all the wildlife that was buzzing around inthis bush. Along with these Syrphid flies, I had honey bees, hummingbird moths (Hemaris ??) carpenter bees, and lizards. The lizards weren't so much buzzing as darting, but, you know. Here is a carpenter bee that my husband found wobbling around on the sidewalk the other day. He was trying to find a good place for him to rest, but in the meantime, he decided to take some pictures. I love these guys! They are such gentle giants. Unfortunately, they get their name from the fact that they burrow into wood, which sometimes makes them a pest, but I've never noticed them going up into our eaves or anything, so I don't think they are causing us any problems. I just like to see them buzzing around the garden.
So, all these critters were living in one flowering plant that I have in my yard, or maybe not living in it but at least enjoying it, just as I was. I'm sure there are many more that I can't see as well. This is also why I have such a hard time spraying for anything in the yard. I know if I spray something to kill aphids, it's not just going to kill the aphids. It's probably going to do damage to everything else that is happily co-habitating with my plant and the aphids. I would much rather just wait for the lady bugs and their alligator-looking babies to move in and take care of things, and it has been my experience that they will.
Some additional links:
May Dreams Gardens where Carol discusses all things garden-related. Also the home of the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, where readers send in pictures on the 15th of each month to show what is blooming in their gardens. This a great way to get inspired and maybe find a new plant that you have never seen before.
The Garden Web Forums-This is the place to go to discuss anything gardening-related. There are forums by region, by name of plant, by type of garden, pretty much anything you could want. Sometimes the hardest part can be figuring out where to go first!
Garden Rant-This blog is written by four avid gardeners, and the topics vary all the time and are often tied to current events.
Waikiki Worm Company-Even though this is a Hawaii company, this is still a great resource for anyone who is interested in composting with worms. You can get a lot of good information and then go from there.