Turkeys aren’t the only visitors to the school garden. Here are some other garden friends:
A milk snake. I was gathering ground cherries from underneath the branches when we took each other by surprise. She was so pretty—the picture doesn’t do her justice. She was much more strikingly colored in person (or maybe surprise sharpens the contrast in your mind’s eye). Her head was elevated up off the ground in an S-shape, probably a defensive posture, poised to strike if necessary.
I’m embarrassed to admit that the first thing I did was very carefully remove my phone from my pocket, gingerly type in my passcode with my thumb, and snap a photo before she could flee. Probably my first instinct should have been to move my other hand out of harm's way, the one holding the branch directly over her head. But I was bolstered by something that the 12YO repeats often: There are no poisonous snakes in Massachusetts. (Actually, according to the University of Massachusetts, there are in fact copperheads and timber rattlesnakes in certain secluded areas of the state, but they’re so few and reclusive that, for all practical purposes, the statement holds true for suburban Boston anyway.)
But even non-venomous snakes can bite. She didn’t, luckily. I lowered the branch as gently as possible and let her be.
Here’s a black swallowtail caterpillar on the parsley. He picked a good host plant since parsley grows like crazy in the school garden. We have plenty to spare. I can’t find the photo I took of an adult black swallowtail butterfly earlier in the season, but they’re really pretty and look like this.
That’s a bumblebee resting on the top of the stake. I thought it was dead because I never see bees stop moving for even one second. It wasn’t dead, just a slacker bee. The queen will not be happy when she receives my report!
We have plenty of pollinators in the garden: bumblebees, honeybees, yellow jackets, and one gigantic black wasp that seems to love the oregano flowers. The latter turns out to be a type of solitary digger wasp that feeds its larvae by parasitizing grasshoppers.
Hey, grasshopper. Stay away from the oregano plant!
I also saw a raccoon ambling about in broad daylight. He didn’t look too rabid, just fat and unconcerned by my presence. I’m moving him up to Suspect #1 for this summer’s corn atrocities. No photos for you, Masked Corn Thief. You shan’t be immortalized on this blog!!! (Post to self-destruct in 10…9…8…7…)