Sunday salutations from Charlottesville where May has arrived bringing with it a colorful array of feathers and one very pissy opossum. As I enter the six month of a now planned nine month sabbatical, I am amazed not only by the passing of time but of the wonders of nature that continue to unfold just outside my window.
The Gold Finches were the first to arrive alighting on the tube feeders filled with thistle and jostling among 20 or so others of the same species for a perch from which to feed! The bright yellow hue of the males and pale green coloring of the females make them a delightful vision as one awakens in the early morning hours. Not to be outshined, two Cardinal couples soon followed in a blaze of red. Then came the regal Blue Jays in triplicate announcing their presence with a piercing call!
Regular feedings have become part of my daily ritual and new sightings send me rushing to Karen’s office to announce the arrival of a humming bird, blue bunting, and most recently two mountain blue birds. My love for photography and newly discovered passion for birds has resulted in a photographic series I call Bird Butts! It started with a Mourning Dove warming its rear on my skylight and was followed by a Gold Finch that elected to take a mid-morning siesta while plastered to the window screen. I tend to think the finch actually got tipsy on Hummingbird nectar and couldn’t make it to a nearby tree.
Among my finely feathered friends, there is the occasional bird that defies explanation! Karen assures me that in the animal kingdom cross breeding does not occur. I am certain she is wrong and a Mourning Dove I have come to call Mohawk is proof. The dark patch of hair standing tall upon his head distinguishes him from his colleagues, who seem not to have noticed that he is an oddity among their breed. Careful observation has ruled out injury or the outgrowth of a tumor and, thus, I can only surmise that his mother had an affair with a Belted Kingfisher.
Fur not feathers fill my nights. As a youth, romanticized images of cool summer nights spent sleeping on a screened in porch filled my daydreams. So it is that I decided to fall asleep with the patio doors open and a floral scented breeze rustling the hairs on my head. Today was not the first morning I have awakened just shy of 2:00 a.m. and usually a bit of television soon has me back in a state of slumber. Reaching for the remote control, I suddenly realized that an un-birdlike creature was stealthily making its way across the deck banister. Quickly, my mind processed the silhouette … too small to be a bear … too tall to be a raccoon … tail too thin to be a skunk … head too pointy to be a cat. I jumped to me feet and snapped on the deck light. Gadzooks, a opossum!
My scream of, “Karen wake up … come quick.” failed to faze the opossum, who continued munching quietly on the bird berries and nuts with only an occasional sniff of the wind. I knew this creature well. It had been the bane of my existence in Redlands where a opossum couplet I came to call Miss Piss and Baby Piss Off had claimed the underside of my bungalow as opossum territory. As if the constant smell of a litter box gone bad was not enough, sounds of a construction project occurring within the walls of my bungalow nightly disturbed my sleep. The final straw, however, was a flea infestation. As Karen stumbled sleepily into the solarium and eyed the stupendous creature with a tail that seemed to reach to the stars, we stared at each other in utter disbelief. I was opossum jinxed! Bird magnet or not, I had lured evil into our very presence.
Daylight has now come and the yellow eyed creature with razor like teeth has taken leave. Today will find me locked safely indoors with a thick partition of glass separating me from God’s creatures. My romanticized daydreams of screened porches are no more, and it shall be a day or two before I fall asleep without the outdoor deck brightly lit. In the meantime, I’m admiring the birds from afar and keeping a watchful eye out for evil on four legs.