Tuesday, August 19, 2014

rats

A movement at the bird feeder caught our eye.
A silhouette against the evening sky.
Our eye traced the shape and compared it to the file in our brain marked, Silhouettes Of Things That Should Be In A Bird Feeder and there was the sound of screeching brakes and screams of terror.
Well maybe not really.
But my husband and I both leapt to our feet in unison with the same word on our lip.
Rat!!!!!!
ARgggghhhhhhhhhhh.
Ten years ago, we moved to this house, here in the heart of town.
We brought our boxes and our bric a brac and even a few plants from the garden.
And we brought our bird feeding ways.
We were horrified when rats promptly arrived with napkins tucked under the stubble on their chins.
We reluctantly gave up our feeders.
The years rolled by and we settled for life without.....
Without the constant flutter of birds at the window elbowing each other out of the way for prime sunflower seeds.
Rosy house finch, sparrow, pine siskin.
We've had robins of course, they've kept the worm population terrorized.
And we've had jays. They sweep through like an unruly gang from time to time, stirring up unrest.
And of course we've had crows.
We've really missed the little birds though.
The little bright, busy, bossy birds.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast doesn't it?
A rat free decade lulled us onto the slippery slope of self deception.
My husband built a marvelous bird feeder.
He installed it on the deck railing so that we could have front row seats.
If you build it, they will come.
They did.
But I guess the word got out.
Rats.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

eager hands

We've had rain at last.
The forests have inhaled and are cool and damply green.
The paths, thickly carpeted and spongy.
My daughter suggested Campbell Valley Park.
We wandered past moss slung trees and towering fern.
Acorn tree, wild huckleberry, mushroom.
A flash of squirrel and bird call on the wind.
The branches rustling with chickadees.
We filled cupped hands with almond slices and raisins and held them aloft.
Like offerings.
Bright eyes watched.
A whirr of wings.
Tiny feet clutched finger tips as the chickadees came, one after another.
Chestnut-Backed, Black-Capped, Mountain.
I can still see my daughter, my grandson and granddaughter standing in the dappled light, hands aloft, faces rapt.
And chickadees dropping from the branches onto eager hands.
Chick-a-dee-dee-dee.

on the sand

Tiny pink shells like butterfly wings on the sand,
barnacle encrusted oyster,
indigo and mauve mussel,
thick cupped, heavy ridged, speckled and freckled,
and here and there, shells the color of polished horse hoof,
shades of varnished brown.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

adventurous times

A world of wonders is beneath your feet.
An entire civilization lies hidden.
When you walk a sandy stretch of beach they are all around you.
Sometimes you can hear them.
A hissing sound as you walk over the hard, wet, gray sand.
Sometimes a stream of water shoots up and marks a spot, like an x on a treasure map.
Dig here.
All you need to do is look down.
Down at your feet and as far as eye can see.
Under every hole in the sand are clams, clams, clams; Manila, Littleneck, Butter, Razor, and the giant Geoduck.
It's fun to dig for clams.
To pounce on a waterspout, and scoop up the sand until your fingers close upon the prize.
Geoducks are the most fun of all though.
Their siphons are often just at the surface.
Clam lips.
It can be a foot or more to where the giant clam lies smugly safe.
But mollusks are nobodies fool.
They feel the sand being thrust aside and retreat in a rush of water.
Sand is heavy and filled with broken fragments of shell.
Digging by hand can be perilous.
It's a sport of fools apparently.
Spurred on as I was by a reckless desire to show my grandchildren a giant clam, I plunged my hands into an ever deepening hole in the sand.
I could tell right away that the cut was deep.
By the time I pulled my hand to the surface, up through the slurry of sand, blood was everywhere.
I held my hand aloft and stared in amazement as red flowed down my finger and hand and began to drip onto the sand.
Good grief.
I was a bio-hazard.
You never have a hankie when you need one.
Have you noticed that?
I didn't have anything I could wrap around the cut, so I pressed on it with my thumb as we hastened towards shore.
It was low tide and we were at the waterline.
Of course.
A clean bottle of water was sacrificed and a kleenex pressed into service.
Then back to the beach we went.
The children and I disrupted the eco-system by feeding pretzels to the seagulls.
We gamboled and rambled and roamed and roiled.
Then raced for the truck and the parking meter.
We arrived breathless with two minutes to spare.
Adventurous times.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

into summer

There it was, its wings white against the dark wet sand.
A small butterfly.
Somehow it had fallen and now had wings heavy with water.
I bent and placed my finger against feet waving in the air.
They instantly grasped hold and the little butterfly was soon upright on my hand, opening and closing gossamer wings in the afternoon sunshine.
I do think time stands still.
Just for a moment I think it did.
I can still see those wings so delicately patterned.
Feel the grip of tiny feet.
The breeze always blows at the beach and my granddaughter's hair was being styled by the wind.
I transferred the little feet gripping my finger to my blouse to free my hands so I could coral her hair into an elastic.
When I was finished, I remembered the little butterfly but it had caught a friendly current and sailed away into summer.

fiesta

We've been taking a run at summer, my grandchildren and I.
Who will drop first?

"What should we do today?" I asked my grandchildren. "The pool? The beach? The park?
"I'd like to have a fiesta," my granddaughter stated, as quick as a wink.
"She means, siesta, Grandma," her brother explained.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

amazingly

It seems like only yesterday that they were babies and now they have flown the coop.
Really.
They have.
Our family of robins has taken the leap.
When my grandson knelt on the deck, his forehead pressed to the boards, his eyes peering into the shadows below, he confirmed what we had suspected.
A whole lifetime in robin years had flashed by.

Here is the timeline:
Amazingly beautiful eggs appear.
Mother incubates them endlessly.
This takes two weeks.
Amazingly homely babies hatch.
Mother feeds them endlessly.
This takes two weeks.
Amazingly grown up looking young leap from the nest.
Mother coaches them endlessly.
This takes two weeks.
Worm population drops dramatically in yard.
Ta da.
Full grown robins.