Earlier this fall, one of our volunteers was strolling the grounds and stopped to admire the beautiful wet lands.  She commented to Tracy that the variety of flowers and natural beauty was stunning.  Last fall, we scattered an assortment of wildflower seeds over our “idyllic swale” to start our prairie garden.  The intent was to turn a grass-mowing problem into an attractive natural area that visitors of all kinds could enjoy.  Tracy mentioned that it takes three years for the wetlands garden to fully develop and we are only completing year one.

Tracy also mentioned the various forms of wildlife that were taking refuge in these wetlands as well as in the backyard “prairie” that we allowed to grow wild this year.  He added that JustBob also talked of developing a butterfly sanctuary and possibly adding bee hives, both needed to safeguard and increase two vital, threatened species.

Monday at lunch JustBob reported he had planted the butterfly milkweed seeds that Jackie H. had given him. Fr. Bob had often talked of planting milkweed to provide a sanctuary for monarch butterflies, so he would be pleased to see one of his hopes and dreams taking root.   JustBob spread the seeds just west of the pond, under the bat houses.  Hopefully, next spring we will be enjoying their bright orange blossoms as well as all the butterflies they will attract.

Today, Tracy stocked his new bird feeder with sunflower seeds and hung it near Fr. Bob’s gingko tree, so we could enjoy the birds from the Residents’ Community Room.  We will have to wait and see if the birds are more entertaining than the squirrels who we are certain will do their very best to defeat the “squirrel-proof” features of the feeder.

During this pandemic year that required us to reduce the number of human guests we could welcome, God seems to have increased the number of our wildlife brothers and sisters for us to welcome.  While St. Anthony’s has long been a sanctuary for people to find refuge, nourishment, safety, and peace, we are consciously working to extend hospitality to all of God’s creatures by sharing these gifts that were so generously shared with us.

For all those who find refuge here, the birds and the bees, the bunnies, butterflies and bats, the turkeys, deer, fox, woodchuck, skunks, squirrels as well as all our human guests, we say Deo Gratias!