As I sat in my chair in the darkness, awaiting their return to the door, where they assemble for reentry, as they do each and every morning, my mind began to wonder to the soft night time sounds around me. My concentration was broken several minutes later as the dogs pawed the window, voicing their displeasure at being made to wait their return to the house...and ultimately, their spot on my bed beside Vick is still snuggled under the covers. Ahhh, their favorite time of the day, other than meal time, which comes in the evening. I got up from my chair and opened the door, heard a whoosh of their fir against the side of the door and their thundering foot steps as they zinged past me and in a millisecond, I was again standing in the silent darkness. I ambled over to my chair again, sat down and resumed my thoughts of the sounds and activity around me.
Many times I have let my mind lead me on journeys of the past, in nature’s presence, before the animals that inhabit our surroundings. I am this time, lead back to the afternoon that I watched beyond the stone borderline, for the fox that was pilfering our chickens. He was proficient in his labors, operating at a rate of about one chicken or duck a day. I had my shotgun and stood watch, out over the wooded lot behind the dirt pile. This fox had been seen there either leaving or arriving at least once by me when I didn’t have my gun. I decided today, I would lay in wait and ambush him or her before it could accomplish another kill. As I stood watch quietly, I watched the snow moving in a little hump...and inch at a time, moving in a wide arc toward the yard from the edge of the stone hedge. I moved slowly...meticulously...but occasionally zipping to a new spot, as if it knew where it was going. I wondered what small animal this could be, having an idea it was a rodent of sorts, out shopping for something to eat. As I continued to watch, it reached a stick, which blocked its progression and it immediately popped its head up out of the one inch snow covering. It appeared for an instant...then dived back under the snow cover and raced toward the stone hedge with lightning like abandon, disappearing from sight in an instant. I was amazed with its ability to navigate under snow and arrive at a den hole without running into something first. In time it emerged onto a stone with a little seed or nut and began its feast as if I was a normal fixture of its surroundings. It paid little attention to me until I moved a fraction......and it was gone again.
Later a chickadee came popping around the side of a tree and hopped onto a branch. When they are flitting around you, if you keep perfectly still, they may occasionally land on your shoulder or arm as they continue their carefree search for food. They sit on a limb and puff up the size of a baseball, only to shake and return to one third of their size before flying away. It’s funny how the gray squirrels will continue to operate, gathering acorns or nuts, even among the winter birds, unconcerned that they are present. The red squirrel however, will stop what they are doing and chase all the birds away they can before resuming their task of foraging. It’s as though they are afraid the birds will take something...a worry not entertained by the grays. The little red squirrel will also go out of their way to inflict bodily harm on any other mammal coming too close to them also.
They remind me of some people. You know, those folks that want to be left alone, to do their thing without intrusion or being watched. They hate everything and everybody...even their own kind.
I was sitting there in my chair...off in that other time, when Princess nuzzled into my side and licked my hand, wanting me to feed her a piece of the roll and butter I usually have by now. Her disappointment at my empty hands jarred me back to the present, so I headed to the kitchen for that roll.
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