Personal Musings

The Wildlife of Spring in Early Summer

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

It finally rained the other day. Even with the precipitation, the ground remains fried to a crisp. Seeing the curled inward leaves of the plants around the house, I take to the water hose to breathe new life into their roots.

In doing so, nature’s little critters come out the woodwork one by one. First appears a mole in my backyard. It’s rare to see this underground saboteur, but I’ll spy him on occasion, the ground moving upward like a snake before he pops out a hole at the end then disappears from sight again.

I make my way to the front yard. As I spray a plant desperate to quench its thirst, out darts a young bunny rabbit. It’s not teeny tiny, but it is tiny. I’m not certain where he’d been hiding under cover before he showed his white tail. The drain pipe maybe? Underneath my basketball hoop?

I try to encourage the little fellow back to where that may have been. He’s an easy meal for our neighborhood hawks that do fly-bys throughout the day. They aren’t shy in devouring another’s momentary lapse in judgment. But the little rabbit isn’t having it and hides under an azalea. I leave him be so I don’t draw any more attention to him as is.

There may be eyes in the trees staring down at us right now. A predator of the sky unseen to us. He knows this as do I.

I move to the spigot and tame the flow of water until it runs dry. I lean too far down and my face meets a garden spider’s web. I remove it from my glasses and beard. As I’m doing so, a doe and her fawn move in quiet behind my backyard. The fawn in all its spots tries to sneak a drink of her mother’s milk. The mother deer isn’t having it today.

Only a week before, my family and I had watched the mother allowing her baby to drink from her supply. A week later she appears to be saying no. She nudges the fawn away and cleans around her neck as she does.

“You must eat the leaves from the trees and bushes now,” she seems to say, encouraging the spotted fawn. “You must eat the buds from this man’s flowers who’s looking at us now. He has some tasty hosta and the neighbor a scrumptious hydrangea we’ll strip bare soon enough. It’s an all you can eat buffet around the corner.”

I sit down in a chair on our back patio.

A new-to-flight tufted titmouse lands on my picnic table six feet away. She looks just like her parents, only smaller. Mom or dad don’t like her going off on her own and try to shoo the youngster away by doing aerial maneuvers around her and chirping harshly.

The small bird seems to think mom and dad are joking around and continues searching for bits of food and small seeds on the picnic table. Mom or dad give up (been there), throw their wings into the air, and head to our feeder where they are joined by a burgeoning bluebird family that’s moved in down the street this spring.

My world feels larger now. Not as small as it sometimes feels. I feel better for having seen these blossoming creatures that call the small acre I live on their home, as I call it mine. There’s an ecosystem here. A habitat. There is an interconnectedness I share with these animals. A web of life.

I am a part of it, just as they are.