American novelist Henry Miller once said, “The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”
Moments like this make me appreciate Miller’s sentiment.
One early summer day not too long ago, my girls and I were out in the sensory garden picking raspberries (we were going to make freezer jam). One daughter, who has a beautiful, well-tended gift for distraction, noticed that there were more ladybugs than usual out. Commenting that there are a handful of ladybugs on the Autumn Joy sedum plants nearby, she went in for closer inspection.
My other daughter and I decided that what she was doing was a heck of a lot more fun that what we were doing so we joined in on the discoveries. We found several different kinds of flies hanging out on the unopened flower buds. We discovered a spider who had created her egg nest on the cupped underside of a leaf. Then, we found the most magical thing of all!
We noticed dried slug slime trails running up the stem and leaves and going all the way up and across the fanned out flower heads! It looked like "magical rainbow tape", as one of them described it.
The dried slug trail was paper thin and fragile. We gently poked it and it broke. It was clear with an iridescent, rainbow sheen. I despise finding slugs in the garden, but that morning they left us something that sparked my 7-year old twins’ imaginations.
Their favorite hypothesis about the magical rainbow tape was that it was a gift from the slugs to the ladybugs. Ladybugs are small and it takes a long time for them to get from one sedum stem to another. They’d have to travel all the way down, over to the next stem, and then all the way up. Exhausting!
The slugs, apparently kind and generous by nature, wanted to leave the ladybugs bridges between the stems to make their travels more convenient. They have really tiny legs, after all.
Here, in one unassuming sedum plant, we found the multiple, indescribably magnificent worlds, each with their own rich story.
Here, I witnessed the beating heart of nature connecting with the open hearts of my children. There is magic all around us, all the time. Often, it takes our children to point out the obvious for us. Thank goodness they do.
Sensory plant feature: Autumn Joy Sedum, Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’, hardiness zones 4 – 11, grows to approx. 24” tall and slightly wider. Truly a 4-season perennial!