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Sunday, May 19, 2013


chickadee pecking a sunflower seed

It's a cool, damp day, raindrops dripping from leaves, fog whiting out the distance, nice white backdrop to foreground. A chickadee standing on a rhododendron branch pecking open a sunflower seed, eating the treat inside. I think of unwrapping a Hershey's "Kisses" with the dexterity of a critter with hands. The chickadee uses what we call feet for hands. A chipmunk has walked out to the limp extremity of the branch looking for a place to get a foothold to leap from. Couldn't find a firm part of the branch close enough to jump to the birdfeeder from. Brings to mind an old-timey word that has left the vocabulary, scutter. It was something of a generic term like critter. A dog could be called an old scutter, or somebody could be called a scutter. It's one of the words with its meaning in the sound. I doubt the word had a concrete definition. Looked it up just now in an online dictionary. It's the noun form of the verb to scurry. I think of a chipmunk scurrying over the ground foraging for leftover sunflower seeds. It's then natural to think of a chipmunk as a scutter. Even this definition leaves the meaning indefinite, something like a slang word, particular to context.

out front door looking left
The two windows with a birdfeeder in each one make better viewing than tv or movies. I sit here writing, looking out one of the windows for the next sentence, snowbirds and towhees hopping on the bare ground beneath the rhododendron. I also throw a big cup of sunflower seeds up high to rain down through the leaves to the shaded ground below. It sprinkles them fairly evenly in the shade where the birds and scutters feel safe. A gray squirrel is nibbling in one of the feeders. I don't mind. It's for them too. They don't take everything, though I do have eight squirrels now and at least that many chipmunks. I throw a fair amount over the ground too. It's for anybody that finds it. Possums come out after sunset and scrounge for leftovers with their noses that look like trunks snorting the seeds. Possum goes all the way back to dinosaur times. I theorize that possum has continued by not being very particular about what it eats, and by not being a fighter. A possum passes out from fright when attacked, farts a scent of death, pursuer backs away freaked out. Possum comes to, pursuer is long gone, possum goes about its way.

out front door looking right

Last night late driving on Glade Valley Road in rain and intermittent fog I came upon a possum in the middle of the road eating something that had died on the centerline. I slowed when I saw possum's eyes look up. I slowed further ready to stop, because possums are bad to get run over. My feeling is what's fatal for them is that it takes a moment for their pea brain to figure out that those two lights are a car going fast--lookout-lookout-lookout---so I like to give them time needed to figure it out, a second chance so when a pickup comes along driven by a consciousness that will turn the steering wheel to hit a possum, the possum might think a little faster about getting off the road. I can't save all the possums. The one last night turned and ran to the other side of the road instead of running across in front of my lights. I don't like it when one runs under a tire out of nowhere. Those get written off as consequences of the modern world. It's not my fault we need cars to get around in and roads to go fast on. We're victims together of the harsh edges of the modern world indifferent to consciousness.

happy gray squirrel

I believe what it is that makes the scene in the window more interesting than movies or tv is the feeling in myself. I feel love in my heart for the birds and the scutters. I'm happy hawks can't get them here. I'm happy to buy bags of sunflower seeds for them. The seeds are good nutrition, the oil good for their joints, their feathers, fur and much else, about like olive oil for us. They live in a world of humanity hostile to wildness while loving the idea of it. When a hawk catches one of my babies out in the open, the hawk gets a good meal. The hawks are part of my feeding stations too, part of the cycle. Maybe cardinal will come back a bluejay for a new color experience. Maybe chipmunk will return squirrel for the arboreal experience. I think it's their hands that make squirrels pesky. They use their hands the same as a raccoon. I like that my neighbors come to my house for dinner. I feel like everything that lives around me in the woods, in the meadows, in the ground, are my neighbors, same as human neighbors. This is a way of loving my neighbors, a seed kitchen for the feral. Caterpillar sits in the open doorway and watches. A bird, chipmunk or squirrel approaches her strike zone, she squeaks and her whiskers twitch. She doesn't eat them anymore. She knows them well like hunters know their prey, though in this time of her life she's an observer.  

caterpillar bird watcher

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