The Meeting Place

I don’t go there often enough.  There are reasons for that, some are valid, others not so much.  I didn’t want to miss the chance today to see a Monarch.  We used to have more of them, even in the “yard”.  I prefer calling it the gardens, as there’s little “lawn” in favor of shrub, flower and ground cover beds.  But the meadow has more milkweed, so chances are better for spotting one there.

The Monarch is synonymous with Debra.  She’d be 44 as of 4:55 this afternoon.  It’s not just that she raised them  most summers from the 2nd grade until her last, the “sweet 16”.  There’ve been signs, along the way, or maybe I just see what I expect to see. There was the moment after everyone had left the cemetery.  After the sharing of food and small talk.  After all that, I returned to the cemetery alone.  A Monarch fluttered right past me as I spoke to Debbie in jerky bursts.  Her last Monarch caterpillar unfolded from its chrysalis the day after I got home from her funeral.  When Robin and I were married on our deck with Mary standing alongside us, a Monarch circled around us.  A year or two later while strolling through the garden at dusk, we spied dozens of them hanging under the branches of a tree.

We had two ponds dug in the mid-90’s.  The larger one was dug into a small valley in the north meadow of our property. The intention was to create a fishing pond.  The acre and a quarter of pond and the meadow beside it are surrounded by hardwoods.  We stocked the pond, planted some aquatics, built 4 docks, and planted Cypress trees in the north end, when they were just seedlings. The meadow has developed more variety of wildflowers over the years, with my seed sowing.  We named this the Cypress Pond.  With maturity this place has become quite extraordinary.

The smaller pond is in front of our house.  It’s about 20000 gallons and was built and dedicated to Debra.  Her goal had been to become a marine biologist.  We planted is with white water lilies and stocked it with Koi and comets.  At the time, my thinking was that “her pond” was something that I wanted close to me.  It would be the one that I’d see everyday.

But, today hurrying out to the meadow, I hoped to see a Monarch since it was Debbie’s birthday.   It was sunny and warm so there might be a chance, though most days anymore they are not to be seen.  There’s always Swallowtails and sulfurs, checkers and saffires.  When I came out of the woods, the first thing that caught my eye was the Great Blue Heron on the farside, working the shallows.  Of course he departed immediately with his enormous gray wings lifting him magically upwards.  Realizing I missed the opportunity for a photo to mark the occasion, I began fumbling with Robin’s phone trying to get signed in and the camera up when there before me fluttered a Monarch.  She was just leaving the flowers and headed across the water.  Missing that photo opportunity also, I was nonetheless elated as I walked on and checked the milkweed next to the mowed grassland surrounding the water.  On the first two plants  I immediately found eggs!  The dogs and I continued moseying around the water, until I settled in a recliner on the farside, to watch the aerial acrobatics of the dragonflies, the fish working through the water lilies, the frogs croaking and the songbirds calling.  Everytime I sit there and watch the natural world, I’m mesmerized by its complexity and beauty.  And it was then that I realized that she had claimed this pond for her own on this very birthday.  It feels right calling it Debra’s Cypress Pond.  This enchanted place is home to all manner of wildlife.  I wonder if she was there last week when the doe introduced me to her twins?  Now that was a miracle.

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