It was late in the day and I felt the sun warm my back through the dark green t-shirt. I decided to seek the cool of the shade and continue my weeding there.The difference of the texture in the soil under the trees was familiar. With all of the fallen leaves the soil was soft and friable with decaying organic material. The weeds pulled out easily without digging. Even the creeping quackgrass, with its directional line of prostrate roots, was easy to remove as it trailed underneath the cushiony leafy mulch.
The area was so crowded with matured shade plants that to avoid damaging the leaves I had to stand and bend forward at the hips to move between them. Occasionally there was an open space near the base of a tree. Here I could go to my knees and rest my back while the clean-up continued.
I crawled along absentmindedly until a sharp pain went through one knee. I had knelt on a piece of something hard and rounded. Sitting back I rubbed my knee slightly and looked at the spot that had assaulted it. Out of sight under the ferns and hosta leaves was a piece of broken limb. It had lain there for some time and was partially rotted with little worm holes running through it. I had knelt on a tough unyielding edge of the bark.
Usually I leave woodland debris rest where it has fallen. After all, it’s all good stuff nourishing the soil. This fallen piece was large enough and close enough to the plants that it was forcing them to be twisted and deformed trying to grow around it. I decided to pick it up and break it apart into the compost heap.
Lifting it to one side I saw a scurry of activity. A few brightly colored bugs darted in multiple directions looping back on themselves, blinded by the unexpected light. They had formed a lace like pattern in the soil under their familiar roof. Even the back of the cinnamon colored bark had a lovely silvery pattern reflective of their living trails.
The discovery of the beautiful golden striped bugs hidden beneath a dark and decaying piece of bark made me smile. Their industrious munching while working in the dark had left delicately curved channels. Usually no one would see and appreciate their usefulness in breaking down pieces of broken limbs. But there they were, simply doing exactly what they had been created to do, lovely in their own peculiar way, as part of the Creator’s design to be useful, beneficial, and hidden.