mother nature’s critters, not always so gentle, yes?

Yesterday, Hubby and I were driving about the valley on our way home after a little outing and couldn’t help noticing all the beautiful pink and white trees, some juxtoposed against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains in the distance. Now exactly when had that happened? Everywhere I looked there were tulips and daffodils and crocus. It was as though I’d been asleep for a week and just woke up after a long winter nap. Even the bottom or our neighborhood boasts their offerings of those same pink and white trees. One, a tulip tree was practically groaning under the weight of its heavy blossoms only slightly brown-tinged from the effects of last week’s spring snowstorm.

Even at home, sunshine and warmth has invaded our space. The tulips we planted in the fall are beginning to let their colors show through. The cherry, apple, apricot, and almond trees are all in full spring regalia. It was such a fabulous awakening, Hubby decided he wouldn’t wait just one more week to be sure no more snow was in sight before we set the outdoor swingset up.

Just before suppertime, everything was in place and we sat swinging, feeling very smug and  enjoying the last rays of sunshine. Slowly we became aware of a horde of gambel quail sashaying across the back yard to disappear through the fence into the neighbor’s yard. All couples, no babies yet, and we assumed they had come down from the hills behind us to find suitable nesting in the dense oak thatches there. Hubby has been hacking away at our oak thickets so as to let more sunshine in for the fruit trees and wild roses, so they aren’t as private for nesting as they were last year perhaps. Or maybe they liked the new water display over there and prefer it over my old frying pan troughs for their daily summer drinks this year.

Anyhow, we were enjoying the quail parade, watching as they stopped for a few moments to gather the seed droppings from the feeder on the way, when I was reminded of Rima from W. H. Hudson’s classic novel, GREEN MANSIONS (1904), which I have have just re-read, about 40 years since the first time. Despite the writing style, it’s still a wonderful and romantic story. Rima lived with her grandfather, totally isolated somewhere in a Peruvian forest, and consequently learned to speak the language of the birds and animals. As I listened to the clicks the quails were making, and remembered how they’ll use those same sounds to communicate to their babies later on, I was thinking how I’d like to be Rima and understand how one click can mean something quite different from another click, seeing as how they all sounded the same to me.

Suddenly, another bird added to the cacophony, more piercing and menacing than any quail click I ever heard. Magpies! Big, monstrous but beautiful birds (20 inches to the Quail’s 11) came swooping from their perches atop the utility poles and treetops, chasing the quail away, their angry cries only a beak’s length away from the quickly retreating quail. They kept making one and another and another mad dashes at the poor quail who were moving as quickly as they could I dare say, back through the fence, across our yard, and into the waning but better than nothing foilage of our back yard.

Magpies remind me of some people I’ve known. They are extremely intelligent and resourceful opportunists. They flip items over to look for food, follow predators, and sometimes steal food from other birds. AND, they look at themselves in mirrors, bird experts say, and they make me so mad. Of course the bullies will probably be over in our yard, later today no doubt, to chase the courting quail from from our yard.

Plus, now that the swing set is back on the deck with its fabric cushions, I’m sure it won’t take them long to re-discover possible new nesting material they’ll stoop to stealing again just as they did in the fall. I sure wish I could speak like Rima the birdgirl. I’d give those Magpies a piece of my mind.

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10 thoughts on “mother nature’s critters, not always so gentle, yes?

  1. We don’t have many birds in the city. A few blue jays, cardinals and robins but mostly nasty starlings and the ubiquitous nasty pigeons. Your magpies sound about as welcome as the damned pigeons who can spot a clean car a mile away. Sigh.

    • Hi Ruthek. I’m glad spring arrived at your place in time. It does sneak up on you sometimes, doesn’t it? As for ours, better late than never I say! Only trouble is, the wild roses are usually blooming by this time. As it is they are barely beginning to bud…and by the time they really open up and get pretty, I’ll be in Peru and they’ll likely be gone when I get back. It wouldn’t be so bad except I missed them last year and the year before too, and they’re one of the prettiest things in my back yard–to me.

  2. First, thanks for stopping by and leaving a fun comment on my entry on pink trees.

    I am very interested in this book you mention about the girl who lived somewhere forested in Peru and learned to speak to birds. What a fun thing to read! Will you clarify what you mean by “despite the writing style?”

    I’m actually very much interested in reading older books for their language, since it seems today’s books are much too simplistic. One’s daily vocabulary seems to have been much more expansive and colorful back then, don’t you think?

    • Hi Beulah. I’m glad to expand my statement. The writing style of writers in the early 20th century were much wordier, and spent a great deal of time with flowery description and other background for the book they were writing and I find it tedious to read. My mind wants to wander in the middle of a long sentence. “What shall we have for dinner?” “Did I remember to write my appointment on the calendar.” You get the drift. Once you can get through the fluff, as I call it, the stories are usually wonderful. They surely knew how to tell good ones. I really grew into reading after the Hemingway period of writing without lengthy geographical and psychological description. His style was simple and direct, characterized by simple sentences and few adverbs or adjectives. He wrote vivid, natural dialogue and exact descriptions of places and things. Since I’m a bit of a writer myself and have studied it a long time, I’ve succumbed to the idea of trying to get what you want to say, or whatever compels you to write the story you’re writing, let your reader in on and and put him in the story (or the scene) a.s.a.p. so he’ll stay with you to the last page. Dare I suggest that if a reader is truly in the moment with you, there’s less chance of his mind wandering. I’m also enamored of interesting and unusual characters and like to see their development as I read. I believe you’re right about language being more expansive back then, but if you’ve read many modern southern writers (in particular, though they represent only some) are very colorful writers, no? So to get back to the theme, I guess I’ve fallen into a sort of laziness, but there are so many books and so few years left to read them, this is how I choose to be selective. That doesn’t mean I think less of the old classic authors. One of the problems reading GREEN MANSIONS (in the beginning), it was on the heels of THE PAINTED DRUM by Louise Erdrich and I was ready to read her MASTER BUTCHERS SINGING CLUB and thought it would be a good idea to sandwich another author in between. Your comment evoked good thought processing. I’m glad you stopped by.

  3. Rima…….ahhhh. How I loved her paradisel Sould I re-visit her, or should I leave my fanciful memories as is?
    We just got through a heat wave, up to 90 degrees, and this morning, a fat racoon scuttled through my garden. Before that, the purple finches awakened me with their courting songs, just like in Vegas.

    • Eiko, I definitely think you should revisit her–especially if you loved her when you first read about her. It’s true when you read something as an older woman, you get nuances that you didn’t notice when you were younger. For instance, I thought the protagonist terribly romantic when I first read GREEN MANSIONS. I think I was 19 or 20 then. When I read it this time, I thought he was somewhat full of himself. It occurs to me I know a lot more about life in general now, and men in particular. Thank goodness I live with one of the best the species has to offer, which is mostly good. I’m not perfect either. You have raccoons? Somehow I always imagine you in a city setting. Are you anywhere near wine country?

  4. Oh, Peru. You will love it, and maybe next year you will be home to catch the roses.

    I loved this entry. The birds, the peace, the noisy interruption. So in the moment. We have red tailed hawks and giant black crows. The crows chase all but the humming birds away. George feeds those to encourage their return.

    You have been on a roll lately. A lovely word roll. 🙂

  5. You’re much too kind, Mage! But thank you for your lovely comment. I suppose I have to admit my professors back in Ohio were correct when they said the more you write the better and easier it will be. I’m writing daily due to a project in preparation for Wintersong while I’m away next month. Sometimes, when I get into the writing, I don’t want to stop. It’s times like those when I wish I had a maid, and more importantly a cook, and while we’re dreaming, throw in a gopher (go for this and go for that and do it right away) too! Then put me on painkillers (shoulders) and I’ll write all the time.

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