Saturday, June 12, 2010

News from the Gardens

Watching the wildlife around here is a bit like watching neighbors in Rear Window, or Melrose Place. This week, we have had dramatic developments.

Herbert has left Frances. Now the little mourning dove pecks alone through the front yard. I suspect that Herbert may have run off with Chuck the squirrel… apparently, they may have had that type of relationship. What a shock this must be to Frances!

All kinds of new relationships have formed in the backyard, including one between a pair of cardinals. The female peeps and tweets ceaselessly as she jets from bush to ground and back again, just behind her male counterpart. He never says a thing. I wonder if he has read The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain because he just ignores her and continues on his way. In fact, I think I have even seen him roll his eyes.

Two robins take a much more active route in the backyard. They swirl and dip together following one another from various perches in trees, on the deck, over by the fence, and so forth. They seem to get along quite swimmingly, in fact. They are the contented lovers of Malvern Gardens.

The squirrels are hysterical. Take the 3 stooges and multiply by two, because they often run in packs that size, and their comedy is just as large. This week I had one in the plum tree, his pooching white belly toward me as he hurled unripe plums to the ground just for sport, while his friends swung (literally like circus acrobat teams) from branch to branch of adjacent trees. A few days ago, in the yard of a neighbor, one squirrel had been playing with a stick and tried to plant it upright in the ground. After discovering that it was too tall for the hole he dug, he began to chew the stick into two. It was a little thicker than he would have desired for quick results, so he started to roll around with it. In his fervor, he rolled straight out of the yard, over the retaining wall, and hit the sidewalk with a stunned smack. This did not deter him at all. He leapt back up into the yard, carried the stick with him, and worked it over for good measure, then gave it to a friend who then tried the same. He even sat there and supervised! Soon the two squirrels were practically cartwheeling about the grass with the stick. Eventually, the charm of the game wore off and the two squirrels, along with about four other friends that had been pillaging the garden beds, scampered up trees.

Chipmunks are as plentiful as ever. One busied himself with a fallen, ripe plum this very morning. He seemed to understand it was too big to cart away, so he nibbled thoughtfully until he was full, and then skipped to the back of the garden. The chipmunks are the industrious counterparts to all the tomfoolery that takes place. I see them scout, gather, stop, plan, and dig. They never seem to hang out with friends, yet they are everywhere. They ignore the activity of the others unless it is to stop and chirp a warning that I am on the deck. I think the chipmunks have formed a Neighborhood Watch committee.

And we have a new member, a baby rabbit who has made two appearances this week. She did not stir at all when I came across her this morning, but instead ignored me and scarfed down a delicious yellow leaf from her shaded refuge under the fig tree. Surely, she has been approached by the Malvern Rabbit Association for a prospective membership and protection from the local hawk population.

I walked through the garden today and made a note of the burrows and tunnels the quadrupeds have created. I will leave them alone. I don’t need a four-star yard. I prefer that the critters live here and entertain me daily with their antics. I am no longer bothered that the animals raid my fruit trees and leave me nothing. Instead I am amused when I neighbor tells me she has found chewed up plums on her porch, yet she has no plum trees at all. I was thinking about investing in a bird feeder or two, or maybe even a bird bath to enhance the courtyard that the little animals seem to enjoy so much. It would at least give them a new excuse to gather and socialize… maybe even discuss that scandalous Herbert and Chuck.

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