James and I drove down the road, minding our business, when a goose stopped the traffic. She was sauntering—that’s the only word—across three lanes of road. An oncoming car nudged closer, to get her a move on, and this goose lowered her head at it and puffed herself up. This just slowed her down some, so, you know, Car 0, Goose 1.
There could have been a voice over. I could hear it.
Car: Hey, get out of the road.
Goose: Hey, we all got places to be.
Car: You’re tying up the traffic.
Goose: I got as much a right as you!
Car: Oh, yeah?
Goose: The does it. Now you’re gonna get shot the bird, by a bird.
(Originally posted April 25, 2018)
Well… huh. As may probably know, I feed all the back-yard creatures. Among my other offerings, I put out cat kibble for a little, brown stray. The kibble is also popular with the crows. I lay the kibble on a particular stump. Sometimes the crows watch from the trees. And because scientists have determined that they can recognize faces, I smile up at them. Snow-White Meggie. I give a particular whistle and everything.
Well. Today I went out to the stump–and I discovered that somebody had left a piece of clear glass. It’s about an inch square. Now, that thing is big enough–and the stump is small enough–that if it had been there all along, I would have noticed it by now. It is a new object. It’s right there, on the stump where I leave the kibble. And you know what crows are at least anecdotally known to do? Leaving gifts for the people who take care of them.
Is this what’s happening here? I have no idea. Scientists say that crow gifts have not been observable in the wild. But in 2015, the BBC published an article about a little girl who gets crow gifts all the time. All I’ve got is this piece of glass. But you know what? I’ve put it on my shelf. It’s my crow gift, for now. It’s made my day.
(Originally posted April 2, 2018)
Our house backs to a forested ravine that is basically the wildlife highway of our neighborhood. Around dusk, each day, the deer come into the yard, and eat the corn and millet I leave around. Yesterday, I stood at my window, watching them nuzzle and browse. It was very Snow White. It was very Peaceable Kingdom. It was two does standing on their hind legs, smacking the crap out of each other. “Hey!” I threw open the window. “Hey!” They didn’t stop. “Don’t you pummell each other in my yard!” They turned my way. “I will set the hose on you. And I know the water’s frozen, so I will just throw that thing.” They scattered into the woods. I shut the window. Both cats sat beside me. They’d torn up the stairs as soon as they’d heard me yell. I don’t know if Snow White had pips, but I have pips. The neighbors probably think I’m crazy, but I have cat pips.
(Originally posted February 4, 2018)
I feed the squirrels, whenever I feed the birds, and the deer, and the rabbits, and chipmunks and whatever else eats seeds. At feeding time, I go outside with my sunflower mix. I give a particular whistle, and I hear skittering in the trees. I’ve done this for years. The creatures bury stuff all over our yard. And judging by what has just sprouted, somebody has brought us an allium. So well done, beasties.
If you’ve kept an eye on such things, you know the squirrels have decided that now is the time for them to make more of themselves. In my back yard, I’ve watched a male squirrel stumble behind a female at such a relentless proximity that I could almost hear him saying, “Come on, baby. You’re killing me!” In all honestly, it’s not my favorite thing to see.
Now in my front yard, I have an Adirondack chair. I sit out there and read. The squirrels don’t know what to do with this—their Food Monster in Repose. They sniff my chair. They stare at me, singly or in pairs, from the front stoop. I have wondered, I admit, how many of them it would take to carry me off. And then yesterday, there came along Mister Come On, after his honey. And then behind *him* was Mister—I don’t know—Mister Come Back. Somebody touched the other. The three of them tore off into the hostas. They rippled through them, came out the other side, and passed under my chair. The trouble is that this isn’t some kind of folding chair with lots of space underneath. There’s maybe six inches between its bottom and the ground. And when three het up squirrels race through that kind of opening, while you’re sitting right on top of it, then you, well you get goosed by a little squirrel choo-choo.
Everything went fine. They tore up a tree, in that little spiral they make. I’ll read in the chair again today. And I’ll wonder if there will come a time when that female squirrel will finally jump into my lap. Chipmunks have done that sort of thing from time to time; it isn’t unheard of. And really, I wouldn’t mind. I’d feed her some cashews and give her some water. And if I knew it, I’d teach her some serious kung fu.
There’s a tailless raccoon who lives in our useless, dirt-floored garage. I’ve put a dog bed in there, and he has a time. Now around that garage, I also happen to feed the birds. In addition to the birdbath, which is high up, I leave a glass bowl of water on the ground. This bowl is across the driveway from the garage–maybe fifty feet away. Yesterday, I found it had moved, across the driveway, to the garage’s opening. The water–which was still in the bowl–was dirty from somebody washing. James says he didn’t touch the bowl. I sure didn’t. So… could it be? I would have paid money to see Stumpy the Raccoon ferry the water bowl without spilling it.
EDIT. Ah, but you say the water could have frozen at night–when raccoons are most active–and thereby made it easier for Stumpy to ferry. But if that was the case, Stumpy knew that the water would return to liquid, and wanted it by his hovel for later. Either way, I’m impressed.
(Originally posted February 3, 2017)
An amoeba can withstand ingestion of all types. If you want to kill an amoeba, you can boil it, squash it, or dry it out. I’m guessing you could also kill it with toxins or coercives. But if an amoeba lives in a large body of water–as so many of them do–it could conceivably be about as old as the water itself. AND… Aardvarks do somersaults. An albatross has the ability to turn off half its brain at a time. And soldier ants will clog the entrance to the colony with their heads. When worker ants return to the nest, they know which solider heads to bonk, in what order, to gain entrance.
I’m reading the best dictionary ever.
(Originally posted December 9, 2016)
I love cicadas–I love them. Last night there were two groups along our backyard ravine. One would boom, and then the other would answer. And it was all exactly like, “We’ve got spirit, how ’bout YOU?”
(Originally posted July 26, 2016)