Another growing season is upon us bringing heat and humidity in abundance. My plants won’t complain as long as I give them plenty of water. I don’t have a green thumb, but I am gratified to see flowers and vegetables adjusting well to the pots in which I planted them, and then moved them where they could drink in the sunshine along the patio’s edge. With a balance of blooms and vegetables, we get to enjoy both beauty and flavor all summer long. The first veggies to parade a pop of color were sweet cherry tomatoes. Yum. They are so good. The blooms? Not so much. Here’s their story.
Hubby and I were scratching our heads. We’d been outsmarted by a critter of some kind. It was determined to turn my patio creation into pots of dead plants. Not many mornings after I finished planting flats of pink and lavender buds, I discovered that something or someone decided to un-pot the tiny impatiens I had so tenderly planted, for there was dirt and plants scattered on the ground! That’s strange, I thought. What animal would do that? Could my outdoor kitty, Rudy, have done it? He didn’t look guilty, but do cats ever look guilty? I picked up the traumatized plants, scraped up the dirt, and repotted the wilted little things. I had no way to anchor them against an unseen foe, except to helplessly add more dirt, pack it down, and hope it wouldn’t happen again.
You guessed it. It did. Whatever was picking on my plants returned in the dead of night and did it again! This time the varmint also trashed my blueberry bush, tossing it out on the lawn. Now I was really ticked. That blueberry had set me back some serious greenbacks. What is going on? If the varmint wanted to play rough, then I’d play rough, too, so off I went to the garden store to buy a roll of chicken wire. I wrapped the rims of the pots, the ones the culprit seemed to favor, with 6-8″ width of wire. If it returned it would have to get creative to dig in my pots again. All became quiet on the patio. Guess the wire worked.
Meanwhile . . . hubby busied himself setting up a chipmunk trap. He thought the wild thing was likely a squirrel or chipmunk. He put a nice little snack of peanut butter and crackers inside the trap, and carefully set it near the patio. The next morning the snack was gone . . . but so was the trap! The guilty creature had hauled the empty trap some 20 ft. away from the patio! What?? Whatever performed this feat had more muscle than a tiny chipmunk.
If you want to catch a bigger “rat” set a bigger trap, right? This time it was personal for hubby, and off to the garden store he went. He returned home with a bigger trap, all right. It was big enough to catch a whole generation of chipmunks. He set the trap with the usual snack, and went to bed dreaming of the big game he’d catch, which would surely to give him bragging rights at the water cooler the next day.
Well. Well. Well. Guess what was looking out at us from inside the trap the next morning? A raccoon! A very unhappy raccoon at that! We took his mug shot so we would not forget his “smile,” then hubby carefully lifted the trap into the truck bed, and hauled him far enough away so he couldn’t easily find his way back. We could only hope he did not leave a family behind to carry on the tradition . . .
Not too many days later, you guessed it. Once again, a critter picked on my impatiens. Somehow it reached over the wire, and unearthed the plants again. (Hmm. Mr. Raccoon must not be a bachelor.) This time hubby got ambitious, and set both traps, loading them with yummy treats. The next morning they were both occupied! There was a large raccoon in the big trap and a baby raccoon in the little trap. Baby was squalling its head off, letting us know its displeasure. They had occupied themselves by pulling up the grass under the traps in their attempt to “eat and run.” Once again hubby made a trip out of town, but this time he went in the opposite direction. No doubt we split up a family. We still have no idea why they took a liking to my plants when, clearly, there was nothing there for them to eat. If some of my readers have had similar experiences (and solutions) they wish to share, I’m all ears.
Perhaps it’s a stretch to relate this story to grief. Or maybe not. After all, I love nature’s beauty; it often soothes my aching heart, changing my focus. (I’m even trying to see the humor in our raccoon fiasco.) You and I face struggles every day in our grief journeys. Like my flowers taking abuse from a mischievous raccoon, I, too, feel yanked out of my place from time to time. When I feel raw and traumatized, it helps me to return to the source of my strength; my Anchor, my Hope.
We both know what it feels like to be blindsided by the sudden, tragic loss of a child to suicide or other unexpected causes. It’s hard to regain one’s footing after loss. Every day we are reminded, in countless ways, that we are outliving one so precious. In my experience it has taken years to come to grips with the loss of my firstborn and to begin healing. Just when I think I have finally settled into my new normal, another “culprit” comes along and “yanks me out by the roots,” making me feel unsettled all over again ~ such as the recent diagnosis of breast cancer. (More about that in a later blog.)
Do you ever feel yanked out by the roots? Misplaced? Hurt by the words or actions of others? Do you wonder if your new normal will be better, worse, or resemble your old normal? Do you find it hard to see beauty, or humor in the quirky happenings of life? Is it easier to be serious than lighthearted? I know. This grief journey is full of highs, lows, bumps, curves, and the unexpected. It can be the pits, but we are survivors, you and I, right? We take baby steps forward, taking one breath at a time, and lean on the one who keeps us anchored.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. We who run for our very lives to God, have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God.” Hebrews 6:19 NIV; 6:18-20a MSG
Scripture from the New International Version (NIV); The Message (MSG) paraphrased