Story Weekend: Who's in Your Backyard?
Story Weekend is back from its nice long holiday at the beach! I hope all of you were able to take a little time off as well.
I was thinking about a theme for this weekend’s post when a squirrel suddenly leaped from the branch of a tree to the birdfeeder outside my second story window. I thought of “squirrels” as a topic, but recalled the years I lived squirrel-less in San Diego and realized some of you are probably squirrel-less as well. So I decided to broaden our theme to Backyard Wildlife instead. I look forward to hearing your stories.
If you’re new to Story Weekend, here’s how it works: I pick a theme and you share something from your life that relates to that theme, however you interpret it. Thanks to all of you who’ve been contributing. As always, there are a few “rules”:
▪ The story must be true.
▪ Try to keep it under 100 words. Embrace the challenge! That’s about six or seven lines in the comment form. I want others to read your story, and most people tend to skip if it’s too long. I know how tough it is to “write tight” but I hope you’ll accept this as a challenge.
▪ Avoid offensive language.
I’ll start us off with my own story.
John said he’d spotted a deer peering in our back window. We have plenty of deer on our wooded lot, but at the window? “You’re making that up,” I said. A few days later I was walking past our front window when I noticed some motion outside. I took a step closer and looked straight into the big soulful eyes of a doe, her nose nearly pressed against the glass. What was in those eyes? Curiosity? Longing? Loneliness? My novelist’s mind went to work. We haven’t seen her in a year or two now and we miss her.
In school I lived in NYC on the first floor of a 19th century building along with two human “roommates” and one very barky terrier. Poly, the terrier, was useful as a living alarm, a cleanerupper of all organic spills and rat trap extraordinaire. Once she had scared off all the rats she became bored. The park outside was filled with cats and squirrels that she could only watch. But, oh my, was she overjoyed the night one of our front yard critters tried to descend my chimney. It had invaded her front yard. She watched intently up the chimney all night until it got tired of teasing her and was seen cavorting over the roof to a convenient tree. Unfortunately Poly yelped for days when we touched her neck, crooked from looking up.
I was losing plants in my garden and had been intently watching for the culprit for a long time. I thought of the usual critters, rabbits, squirrels, even insects – maybe were to blame. My neighbor,Jay, and I often talk during the summer and I asked if he had had a problem. He said, no, but that there was a groundhog living under the shed next to my house. Indeed a day later I saw the “fat”, overly healthy, “whistle pig” as my husband calls them, eating from my green buffet!
Two days ago I was watching my palomino tugging at some tufts of frozen grass in the pasture when suddenly her head jerked up and she stared off across the fields. Curious to see what had caught her attention, I moved to the upstairs bay window where we can see across many acres and I could see the movement of two animals down near our Mennonite neighbor’s woods. I grabbed the binoculars to get a better look and saw two red fox. One fox wanted to go across the wide open fields, but the other fox was very hesitant. The first fox started to trot away, but when it saw its companion wasn’t following, it turned around and went back. I watched as it jumped at the leery one and tried to tease it into crossing the field as well. This went on for more than ten minutes with me witnessing for the first time peer pressure among wildlife. It was fascinating to watch just how similar the behavior was to humans (kids in particular) who are trying to pressure a friend into doing something the friend isn’t comfortable with. I was disappointed when I lost sight of them behind a hedgerow.
We have several herds of deer that we feed daily in our backyard and sideyard. They actually come to the dining room window and look for us when they want to be fed. We have been feeding them for years and they are almost like pets, its expensive to feed them but the enjoyment we get from having them come to our house and wait patiently for us to feed them is worth every penny. My husband even made two troughs for their food and drilled holes in the troughs to keep the water from ruining the food in the rainy weather. I also enjoy handfeeding the chickadees in the winter, having a tiny little bird land on your hand and take a sunflower seed is something everyone should experience.
as you know, i have black feral cats that frequent my patio. a few allow me to pet them. last summer while sitting on the patio, i felt a wet little nose gently rub against the back of my ankle. i reached alongside me and inattentively began gently petting the affectionate little thing as i took in the captivating shades of green in my yard. my son opened the patio slider and calmly asked what i was doing. “just sitting and petting one of the cats that keeps nudging my hand for more.” i told him. “i don’t think so, mom . . . unless you have a gray one.” he said. puzzled, i looked down at where i was petting and there was a large opossum under my hand, looking up at me with what honestly looked like a very silly, sharp-toothed smile on its face. startled, i jumped up. it, very slowly, walked away and kept turning to look back at me, with every few steps of distance between us. i swear, it would have kept allowing me to pet it, had it not been exposed as an opossum so soon.
Our daughter (Diane’s niece) lives in Iowa. When we visited we heard a neighbor complaning that the chipmunks were eating their birdseed, so we bought a bag of the latter and put some in a plate just outside the screen door. Susan and John’s cats were fascinated by a chipmunk sneaking up on the food – primetime cat TV! The beast saw the cats and let out a shrill alarm call and ran. Eventually it realized they couldn’t get out and gorged itself – literally. It’s cheeks were wider than its belly.
Weeks later Susan told us three chipmunks had discovered the plate, and one was the cleverest. If the others were in his way he would sound the alarm call. When they ran off, he got the food!
I live in town, but we have the usual array of squirrels, birds, opossum, rabbits and Mike says he saw a raccoon. I am still not sure about that one. One winter day Mike started yelling at me that Ruby was in the pool. Ruby is our German Shepard.and I was looking right at her not in the pool. I ran to the back yard and there was a big dog struggling in the cold water almost drowning. We reached the pool at the same time. Here was this strange Pit Bull in drowning in my pool. Mike was yelling to be careful. We didn’t know if this dog was friendly or hurt and mad. Of course that was running through my mind, but I was more worried about getting it out. Trying to remember why it was me and not Mike helping the dog. Mike had just got home from the hospital after having one of his 30 hernia repairs. So I grabbed the dog and pulled it out…bless it’s heart. The dog was scared, cold and shaking. I had no clue as to what to do once I got him out. But he was grateful and took off running out the gate and I guess to his house. After it was all over, I got scared.
love these. Cindy, you’re a braver woman than I. and Kate, that’s unbelievable!
I used to love to hang laundry out on the line to dry. The fresh scent of laundered sheets on the bed was wonderful. Well, as I was removing a line full of freshly dryed laundry one day, I felt something land on my head. Startled, I stood perfectly still, hoping it would go away. It didn’t! I could tell by the way it was moving around, that it was a small bird. Yuk! The possibility of bird poop in the hair urged me on to see what the heck it was.
Very cautiously, I moved my hand to the top of my head. To my surprise, whatever it was, hopped right onto my fingers. Gingerly, I lowered my hand to eye level and found a gorgeous green and yellow parakeet, who appeared perfectly happy to remain perched there. Hmmm….where did he come from? Expecting him to fly away, I slowly moved to the patio to sit down. He happily came along with me, never attempting to fly to safety. Obviously, he was someone’s pet. I took him inside, into our garage and had him move onto the line strung across the width of our garage.
Going back into the house, I sent the kids out to knock on the doors around us, but we never did find out to whom he belonged. A friend of ours dropped by after work to take him home with her. We never did find out where he belonged. She told us many tales of Petie. He was very tame, trained to be comfortable with humans and could talk just a little. Petie lived quite a few years before moving on to his final home.
Karen, I wish that had been our bird. Well actually it was my son’s Tweety Bird. He was such an awesome parakeet and the first time I learned they were actually pets with their own personalities. We bought him for our son as a birthday gift. He was hand trained and such a fun pet. He was often out of his cage flying around the house. One spring day we were doing some work on the house and had all the doors and windows wide open. Some of our windows didn’t have screens. Someone let him out and he found an open window and freedom. I hope that he was found by a loving family and not by another animal hungry for lunch.
We tried to cheer my son up by buying another Parakeet. This is when we found out that birds can have nasty personalities as well. He always acted like he was high on Meth or something. Constantly moving, going from swing to swing and weaving in and out of his ladder. Most of the time if you got close to the cage, he would go nuts and never put your finger close to him.OUCH…One morning we woke up to find him lying in his cage gone to the big sky on the other side. We are sure he had a heart attack….
My brother who lived a mile down the road had bought a Malamute puppy who was always chewing through his lead. One stormy day I got a phone call to say that the dog was missing.. The plow hadn’t been by yet and when I looked out my front window I saw a furry mass sitting on what was the centre of the road.Assuming this was Isis, I went to the door without my glasses on, patted my leg and called for him in that time trusted tradition. It wan’t until my kids told me to stop and I put on my glasses did I realize that I was calling a wildcat to my door(as you do:}. My dad had taught me that wildcats were shy creatures and to see one was a good omen. Well it was for me anyway as I may not have found a dog but I didn’t have a wildcat sleeping on my couch:} Lesson learned.
I named her Glory, and I would spend hours on the deck sketching her as she built her nest in our TiKi; so close to our kitchen window I could almost touch her. George appeared later, guarding her while she kept the egg warm that she had laid. With Kramer by my side, it was amazing that we could sit so close while the Mourning Doves were fearless. I would stand close so her eyes would be exact on the sketchpad, again there was no fear. When the egg hatched, Gracie appeared & all 3 showed us what life & love was all about. They returned to the nest the following year, & my drawings hang happily in the kitchen.
Every spring we had a pair of Cardinals return to nest in an Evrergreen tree that grew right outside of our family room window. Although I am uncertain if we were watching them or if they were watching us, they felt quite comfortable not matter how much activity went on inside and at the time our home was usually full of teenagers. The pair provided us with hours of enjoyment as we watched them build and then nurture their brood until they left after the season. In return we no doubt provided them with much entertainment however, I just wish they could have shared what went on when we were not at home!