Found Friday #8: The Willow Will Tell

We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow
But now alone I lie and weep beside the tree
Singing “O willow waly” by the tree that weeps with me
Singing “O willow waly” till my lover return to me

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to have a weeping willow tree in my yard. There were three big willows near a little creek in my neighborhood, and whenever I saw them, I thought they were just the most beautiful trees. I loved to sneak away and sit underneath them and read, even though they were definitely sitting on someone else’s property and I was definitely trespassing. Kids don’t think about stuff like that.

My mom used to say weeping willows look messy, but I think there’s beauty in a certain amount of chaos. I’d be lying if I said the willow on the property wasn’t one of the reasons I wanted to buy this house.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend came over and spent some (socially distanced) time on our back patio. As we were chatting and enjoying a fire and some wine on what turned out to be a pretty chilly fall evening, he pointed to the willow in the field. He said that in Persian culture (his culture), the willow tree is a symbol of love, and that there’s a term for a willow tree that’s gone crazy from being in love, “beed-e majnoon,” which translates to “crazy willow.” That feels right, doesn’t it, for the tree that my mom used to call “messy?”

This week, I watched the first episode of The Haunting of Bly Manor. I perked up a little bit when I heard one of the main characters sing a few lines from “O Willow Waly.” It’s funny how the universe works sometimes. See, I’d been thinking about our conversation about the willow tree, and I couldn’t quite get it out of my head. You know those moments that you just can’t shake – like you’ll need them for later, like they’re not quite done with you yet.

I feel like our willow has a story to tell, one of these days, and that it’s my responsibility to tell it, when the time comes.

I wonder what it will be.

Found Friday #4: Pretty Mantis

I’ll start this one with a story.

When I was in third grade, my class had two pets – a cute, chubby red and white guinea pig, and two bright green praying mantises that I thought looked a lot like aliens. At the end of every week, two students were chosen, by popular vote of the class, to take the pets home and care for them until Monday. I desperately wanted to bring the guinea pig home for the weekend. But when my name finally came up and the class voted, I got…the praying mantises.

So there I was at the end of Friday, trundling down the steps off the school bus, saddled with my backpack, my spring windbreaker, the books that wouldn’t fit in my backpack, my lunch box, and a wire cage containing two potentially extraterrestrial life forms that I had absolutely no idea what to do with. When I opened the door and plopped the cage down on the kitchen table, my mother was predictably less than pleased.

“What is THAT?”

“Praying mantises.”

“Why do you have those?”

I explained what happened, and she told me I shouldn’t volunteer to take the class pets home ever again. Honestly, I don’t blame her.

Fast forward about thirty years, give or take, and my garden is positively brimming with brown praying mantises right now. It might be karma. But they’re actually kind of interesting to watch, so I’m not complaining.

We’ve been seeing them mostly on our windows at night, seeking out moths to snack on. Earlier this week, though, my husband looked out the window of his study and found this little guy hanging out in our euonymus.

He’s sort of cute, actually. And very photogenic.

And possibly has aspirations to conduct an orchestra?

Live your dream, buddy.

I don’t want him inside my house, would not even consider keeping him as a pet, but as an occasional visitor who keeps to himself, he’s perfectly welcome.

Found Friday #3: The Fantastic Family Fox

Aren’t they adorable?

We get all sorts of critters and beasties on our property. We’ve got a family of deer who come through in the evenings, a groundhog who loves our still-growing orchard, opossums, butterflies, cardinals and other little native birds, and the occasional black bear. And there are two spoiled animals who live *inside* the house with us.

These two really enjoy their creature comforts, and the consistent access to snuggles, soft places to sleep, and snacks.

We’re constantly looking out our back window to see who might be visiting, and back in the spring we were delighted to learn that a family of foxes – mom, dad, and kits – had made a den under our barn. They normally popped out around sunset for playtime and dinner, and we tried to snap some pictures without scaring them.

We found them to be lovely neighbors. They were very adept at controlling the field mouse population, and so fun to watch (from a distance, of course).

The kits have grown up now and I think they’ve moved on, but we still see a fox or two out back under the willow tree from time to time. I’d like to think they feel as happy and at home here as I do.