I've been a bit despondent when it comes to the backyard. There were no nearby decks when I first moved in, so when you were out there, your yard was your own little world. Sure there were buildings that overlooked it (and a naked tenant who liked to preen by a bathroom window), and outdoor parties in other people's places, but they didn't intrude. Now there are decks two doors down on either side, so there's plenty of loud, self-satisfied laughter to be heard, and conspicuous displays of professional leisure. It brings out my grumbling inner serf. If I head outside, two pit-bulls - bored, urban-chic mascots of their owners - glare down at me from above, and growl softly. Behind me, one lot over, looms a balconied condo building with walls of glass. The house next to it, directly behind our yard, was a mirror image of ours, but rotted away year by year as its elderly owner grew sick and died. It's been getting a pop-up rehab for the last two years, but work has proceeded at at a snail's pace, and now it sits unfinished, open to the elements.
Still, I should enjoy the yard while I can. By summer's end there'll doubtless be a construction site next door. Right now, I still like to sit out there with a drink at the end of the day, with the cardinal singing blissed-out notes of pure joy from somewhere up high, and every so often, if I'm lucky, a flock of quarrrelsome parrots flying through. I can ignore looking up at the decks, and do my best to tune out the braying chatter. The pit-bulls generally make peace after a few minutes of suspicion, and flop back down into drowsy indolence. They're not bad guys. The yard is a bit scrappy looking, but it's full of green life. The lilac bush has grown enormous, and the honeysuckle is spreading along the fence. There are raspberries, rhubarb and herbs, and tomatoes self-seed every year. I'm a bad but optimistic gardener, and try to grow all sorts of other things unsuited for the heavy, glass-ridden dirt. Some of them make it.
For the last few years there've been praying mantises out back, and mantis egg cases have become a more and more common sight. This spring I saw five. I wasn't expecting the mantises to hatch out yet, but I guess the warm weather hurried them along. On Monday, one of the cases bore tell-tale signs that its boarders had broken out.
I searched for a while, but couldn't see any of them on the nearby leaves.. Today I had another look though, and there were a couple of tiny mantises exploring the hydrangea. I don't have a zoom lens, so this is the best shot I could manage.
Stick around, little monster friend. Stick around.