Friday, December 10, 2010

Letter Bee - The Mexican Clover

It’s hard to say if laziness, divine intervention, or concern/apathy for the environment led me to turn the mower off and leave my lawn alone. Probably a little bit of everything.

Here in south Florida things are still growing. Flowers still bloom and insects still hop, fly and flit across the lawn. During the summer months you can in fact “watch the grass grow” but with shorter days and fewer rain clouds the need to mow has gone from every four days to every three weeks.

As the dry season kicked in a few weeks back, frost-like blooms took over a corner of the lawn. Days passed and the snowy appearance spread. I mowed, but the prostrate plant avoided the whirling blades and left behind a colorful white and violet ground cover. It was beautiful.

The star-shaped flower is Mexican Clover (Richardia sp.), and despite the name may or may not be a native. It is found in Central and South America as well as the southern United States but may have extended its range down into Florida in the last few decades. Some say it was here before the Spanish explorers and deserves native status. Others think it was introduced.

As I mow on this particular Sunday I find myself humming a certain song as I make pass after pass. Each consecutive lap brings me closer to the field of Mexican Clover that covers nearly half the lawn. I watch hundreds of bees dart from bloom to bloom and slurp nectar from the flowers. Monarchs, White Peacocks, Gulf Fritillaries, Buckeyes, Skippers and other butterflies do the same. It’s like musical chairs for insects.
It’s a spectacular site. My lawn is a refuge. My lawn is a cafeteria. My lawn is beautiful.

Native or exotic – the flowers benefit the bees and butterflies. The humming in my head matches the humming of the bees. It drowns out the mower. I hear my mother say to me, speaking words of wisdom – let it be.
I turn the mower off.

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