There was a mist in the air this early morning, and a thin veil of ice coated everything, the end result of the freezing rain we had most of yesterday and overnight. I really figured today’s walk would be cancelled, but when my alarm went off, I reached over and grabbed my headphones anyway, then snuggled down under the covers to listen if the traffic and weather reports confirmed it was slick out there. They did and I resigned myself to staying inside. I was as comfy and content as a cat as I curled up and sank further down and felt the furnace kick on warming the room. Motionless in the dark, I was wishing I could stay there for the rest of the day. But, alas … work beckoned and would thus interfere with that grand plan, so reluctantly I stepped out from my little cocoon to get it in gear.
I had breakfast then wandered over to the window, raised the blind with one hand, coffee cup in the other, and looked outside.
The other day when I walked out the side door I noticed right away my neighbor Marge had decorated her deck for Christmas and it looked very cheery with the red flocked bows and two new festive feeders. There was a roly-poly white wire snowman swinging back and forth as a bevy of birds all tried to access the seeds at one time, their little feet clinging to its rotund sides.
Likewise, a red feeder that looked like an old-fashioned lantern was occasionally listing to the left as clusters of birds were on each quadrant, then all suddenly shifted over while striving to get at the seed treat inside.
A metal holder was stocked with a waxy square of suet treat, ready for the next Downy Woodpecker to come and get his fill.
There were feeders galore in the yard and there are always birds eager to alight and get their fill of treats.
It was the same scenario this morning.
But today I had the opportunity to watch, from behind a curtain, rather surreptitiously, without them seeing me, and then getting skittish and taking flight. I noted that one fat fox squirrel and his feathered friends noshed together contently and did not try to push one another away. They were on their best behavior, like relatives at the holiday dinner table … mindful of one another – even tolerating each other’s presence, but way too engrossed in the food and treats to stir up any trouble.
They moved about without fear, and were not wary of Marge, who was probably on the other side of the glass, knowing they could trust her and she would not harm them.
This is because Marge feeds them all Winter – they know they are welcome at this house.
Birds kept flitting here, there and everywhere and the sound of their tweets and twitters could be heard through the closed window.
Suddenly, the Downy Woodpecker was scaling the suet holder and clinging on for dear life as he pecked furiously at the suet.
I thought of grabbing my camera but the reflection on the window only makes the pictures come out with a glare, so I took it all in with my eyes instead.
Soon thereafter the door wall opened and a bare hand flung more bread chunks in one direction. The door wall slid shut and a few minutes later, several more handfuls of peanuts were tossed onto the wood deck floor.
Then the real rush began – it was much like a Kmart Blue Light Special with the goodies being the blinking beacon.
All of a sudden, new critters just appeared out of the woodwork, joining their brethren. Marge might as well have rung a dinner bell as they came a’ running.
The resident squirrel, waddled over from where he had stationed himself on the deck stairs and onto the deck floor to partake in more peanuts. I noticed he is so heavy now that he does not even try to walk along the deck rail to hone in on the goodies, he just kind of sits there eating to his heart’s content.
Suddenly a beautiful Blue Jay flew down from the tall Pine and skidded onto the deck floor, neatly landing next to the squirrel. He grabbed a peanut to go – the squirrel didn’t even try to protest. The jay flew off, wings flapping furiously, a streak of blue and white in a gloomy, gray sky, with that peanut in his sharp beak. Who knows where he deposited that treasure? He soon was back and flew right down onto the porch again, but this time he could not decide between bread or nuts. He paused – looking a little defiant in his posture, and finally decided on bread.
I watched, propped up next to the window, slowly sipping my brew ‘til I saw the last of the critters have their fill and fly or amble away. Probably the goodies were gone by then. I kept thinking I should have gone and grabbed the camera, or, at the very least, the binoculars to get a better look. I was imagining Marge’s view from her kitchen door wall, which is truly a window to the world. I was envious of her usual, up-close-and-personal view of the porch, because it is “feedin’ time” every morning and since everyone knows it, they hang out waiting for her to fill the feeders or toss out the treats. It is no different than the squirrels coming to greet me at the Park if you think about it.
I finally tore myself away, and got busy doing other things.
When I logged onto my computer later, there were several e-mails from Marge with pictures she took of the critters noshing together on her deck. Evidently she was watching the same idyllic scene I was, only luckily she captured it with her camera, so the collage of photos above was what we saw.
Maybe it was a missed opportunity for walking, but I watched the “wildlife” breaking barriers as they feasted with one another.
Any glimpse into the life of an animal,
quickens our own
and makes it so much the larger and better
in every way.
~ John Muir