Maple seeds in the grassA friend used to say the trees caused the wind to blow, like when you wave one of those Japanese hand fans. “Whenever you feel the wind, you look and see the trees are moving,” he said in an offering of proof. He wasn’t all that far-fetched.

The earth spins, whirling the trees through space and the motion creates wind that blows a cloud of “helicopter” seeds from a maple across the way to blanket our lawn. The spinning seeds land head-first into the grass, their broad tails waving skyward like flags trying to get the attention of sunshine that must exist somewhere, just not, recently, here.

The bluebirds seem to have abandoned their nest box. There is no sign of the two eggs that less than a week ago snuggled in the dry grass. Maybe the would-be parents became tired of fighting off starlings, though the insurgents are too big to get inside the house they inspected.

Someone suggested a snake might have got to them. That is possible, I suppose. We found a three-inch Garter snake one day. It had been lying curled under the wheelbarrow – though nowhere near the bluebird nest. And a few days ago, we watched a Blue Jay play with one the way a fisherman might play a trophy trout, until it could be conveniently carried to a suitable dining area.

The past few days, a pair of wrens have been inspecting the abandoned digs. The wannabe Romeo perches atop his intended castle, tilts his head back and casts a serenade to a potential Juliet, who so far has resisted his offers.

On the other hand, a robin has built a nest in the bottom of a grapevine wreath that has hung several years outside our door. Three eggs she has so far laid. Grandson calls her a “mommy robin.” We will use another door, and document the new life outside that one.

I love being in the woods. Leaves have filled the trees and hidden the critters, including a yellow cat that hikes through the shrubs, silently searching for whatever small thing is unlucky enough to not notice the danger.

A short time later, the same yellow hunter comes by, headed for home, this time across the grassy area on my side of the forest edge. A vole hangs from her fangs. That’s life – and death – in the forest. Every creature is on the menu for every other creature. Except we humans, who like to think we are at the top of the chain. (It turns out there are Polar and Grizzly bears that didn’t get that memo.)

A colleague went hiking last weekend in Arizona. She apparently fell into a so-called “slot canyon” – one of those deep slots (hence the name) in the desert ground. The Grand Canyon is a slot, worn away by the Colorado River. Others, like the one Debra fell into, are narrower, but sometimes nearly as deep. And like a Mallard nest I found at the foot of an oak, sometimes not visible until you step in them.

Searchers found her, after several days of looking. I know I met her, probably twice, and not recently. Being true to my norm, I’d likely have recognized her, but would have needed a name tag to remember her name.

So I cannot claim we were friends. Except for sharing love of being outdoors that many who did know her well have described.

To paraphrase a quote I heard the other day, from whom I don’t recall: “Nature is neither for you nor against you, but she’s mighty unforgiving of error.”

But what an extraordinary queendom she provides.