About Me

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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What they're eating these days

There are always new things to learn about animals' food preferences, it seems.  Not until this week did I know that juncos will go for suet but can't hang onto suet cages.  The suet cake I put on the tray feeder drew its share of slate-gray-and-white visitors for a few days--until the starlings discovered it, wrestled the cake to the ground, attacked it in hordes, and pooped on it for good measure. While I am as fond of the plays of Shakespeare as the next English teacher, bringing every bird mentioned by the Bard to North America was a really stupid idea.

Wrens are visiting the tray feeder (when it's not overwhelmed by starlings), and while I would have expected the little insectivores to go for the high-protein sunflower seeds, ours seem to prefer the cracked corn.  Speaking of corn, the squirrel feeder hasn't seen much action this winter; our two enormous oaks have dropped so many acorns that the squirrels haven't been able to bury them all but are still feasting.  We also have deer regularly browsing the acorn piles, allowing for some beautiful moonlight wildlife-watching.

I am probably violating some unwritten law of birdfeeding, but cat food can be a bird attractant.  Ending up with a bag of something rejected by our finicky felines, I moistened some of the offending kibble and put a pan of it on a pile of blocks.  Thus far, it's been a big hit with the blue jays (and keeps them off the tray feeder so that the smaller birds can have a chance there).

And on the subject of finicky felines: the one-eyed, fourteen-year-old cat that we inherited last fall has begun climbing onto my lap and attempting the theft of breakfast breads.  Cinnamon raisin bagels as cat food?  Sounds pretty weird to me.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Call of the Wild

Why is it that we take such pleasure in getting close to wild things? Think of all the people who keep what to me are totally inappropriate pets--ocelots, wolves, even parrots.  These are animals meant to live in the woods, not in suburbia, but numbers of our fellow humans want to be close to these not-yet-domesticated creatures. (Of course, I put up bird feeders to get to see little wild things up close.)  A (probably dreadful) film that I still remember from my childhood was the obscure Mara of the Wilderness, about a girl raised by wolves, which seemed like a pretty cool idea when I was eight. These days, I'm too fond of indoor plumbing and central heat to want to spend my time running with a wolf pack in the northern Rockies (if that's where the film took place--I saw it a LONG time ago), but how many of us read and at least briefly fantasized about being Women Who Run With the Wolves?

How many stories/poems/songs have to do with the lure of the "bad boy", the untamed male? Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, "Leader of the Pack"?  Our current vampire fascination has something of the same feel to me--how many young women fantasize being the woman who can join with the male who could prove at any moment to be dangerous and drain her life's blood?  Pretty strange, when you think about it.

But I must confess a current related satisfaction.  Several years ago we adopted a feral kitten born in our back yard, and feral Feraldine has remained even though she has lived in our house since late 2007.  She sleeps in a basket in front of a heat vent, uses the litter box, and eats in the kitchen (preferably when we are in another room), but little Feraldine, the "blue streak," has retained a fear of humans.  The last few mornings, though, she has materialized in bed, doing the "feed the cat dance" on top of Mommy.  She has even allowed her head and back to be scratched, arching her back, purring, and curling her tail into a perfect question mark.  (Of course, she still dashes away as soon as human verticality seems likely.) I don't like to seem unappreciative of our four thoroughly domesticated felines, but Feraldine's purr is one of the happiest sounds I've heard in a long time.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A perfect winter day

No nature writing today, just the chronicling of a peaceful and perfect day.

An overnight snow made driving to our new student orientation event at 7:15 this morning a bit challenging, but I love fresh snow; the unbroken whiteness transforms everything.  After my part of the campus event ended, it was off to pick up a friend to visit the farmers market, where I scored an enormous box of the season's last Gold Rush apples, enough for a winter's worth of fresh eating and crisps.  Speaking of eating, our potluck brunch was probably nutritionally unbalanced, leaning heavily toward carbs and caffeine, but homemade breads and laughter are indeed food for the spirit.

The afternoon brought a visit to the library and a large stack of books that followed me home, followed by an exercise bike session in front of a history DVD from PBS.  The day is ending with a glass of wine and some time with Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell's gentle series of sketches of small-town English life in the 1850's. The women in her stories are generally short of cash, resourceful, often silly, courageous, and attentive to each other's needs.  They're a lot like the women I know.