The Art of Seeing

I’ve been using my garden to teach me the art of observation. If I didn’t, there wouldn’t be much garden left! Yesterday I noticed that the rutabaga leaves were chomped. I looked, but didn’t see anything other than caterpillar poop. I looked again. Turned the leaves over. Swatted a mosquito. Looked again. Finally, my eyes focused. Rather like those 3-D pictures that you have to look cross-eyed at to see the image hidden in the squiggles or the drawings in Highlights Magazine for Children that have things like toothbrushes hidden in tree bark.

Once I saw, really saw the leaves, then I could also see the caterpillars. Dozens of them. They’re the exact same color as the leaves and they even align themselves with the stems. Are these rutabaga caterpillars? They’re not on anything else.

The most amazing garden pest is the Tomato Horn Worm. One day you go out to your garden and your tomato plant has no leaves. It takes ages to find the culprit – and when you see it you can’t imagine that it’s been there, eating away, without you noticing. These worms are a good four inches long and as fat as a thumb. How does one miss them?

After all of this looking, I really did see other things differently. For the first time I noticed that Maizie’s comb was big and falling over a bit. Rather like a healthy leghorn’s comb. But the comb on my other Wyandotte, Alma, wasn’t big and floppy. I looked again. Hers is a pea comb, (sort of like a crew cut.) How could I not have seen that before? I guess I should thank those caterpillars. But I won’t. I think I’ll go pick them off the plants and feed them to the girls.

rutabaga caterpillar

The weather has chilled off and the meadow is filled with late-summer blooms. Here’s Lily in front of a 7-foot tall Joe Pye Weed. The butterflies love it. The photo doesn’t show the dark purple flowers too well, but doesn’t my dog look gorgeous?

dog and joe pye weed

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