Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Wouldn't you just know it that as soon as I say I have nothing new to report that there is, indeed, something. After my entry last night/early this morning, I return to the living room to do my rendition of straightening up. Which is, sit on the couch and become interested in a book on Early American costuming.

I leave the door open on the water side of the house for George, the cat until we go to bed. She likes to go in and out and I don't have a proper pet door. At the moment, she was sitting up on a shelf above the door entertaining a bolt of fabric. Fabric bolts and beads and laces and trims and mannequins and machines are everywhere in this house. They're the detritus of my day job.

George looks down at the floor by the door as I hear this tiny rattle, rattle. I stand up to see what she's looking at and see a big possum standing just inside the living room trying to pick up a plastic box of beads left out from tonight's project. Maybe he was looking to embellish a quilt.

"Nothing there to eat B'rer Possum," I say. He looks at me and then turns around, ambles out the door leaving the beads behind. I am not insulted by his disinterest. Most of the critters tame and wild have this attitude with me. I'm nothing to be intimidated by, at least in their diaspora.

You see. I have left most of Dog Patch in a state of wildness remarkable on my country street of manicured yards. The neighbor men knock down the grass next to the doors and in the driveway so I can go in and out, but the balance of the yard has become way overgrown by default. My depression and disinterest in the avid gardening I used to do has become a tumult of cultured things gone wild. There is a Blue Skies vine with it's garlands of lavender-blue flowers growing up and over the house and into the trees above. There's the Chinese honeysuckle that has grown bored of it's tree and has escaped into the yard. Pandora vine looks aloft from a June orange tree and a purple passion flower vine happily shakes hands with it from a plumbago.

My wildness has become the last refuge on the street for critters who have nowhere else to go. Development all around me has grown concrete and warehouses in place of the trees and woods that were cut down to make room for them. So. The denizens of the woods moved over here. I share grounds with raccoons and possums, some snakes and birds of every description that appreciate the fact that I took them all into consideration when I did my planting once upon a time. I put in things that seed, nut and fruit: A veritable supermarket for creatures looking for a quick stop for dinner fixins. They have their choice of passion fruit, several kinds of oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, sunflowers, rose hips, pineapples, mulberries twice a year where they gorge so much that you can see possums supine with distended bellies for weeks, elderberries, flowers with edible seeds and roots, acorns, palm nuts, fruiting cactus, plantain and bananas. There's a really good produce section here at the Dog Patch Ashram and Hot Flash Hotel.

Over on the meat aisle, we have every conceivable kind of bug and moth, lizard, and frog. The caterpillars who take over the mulberry trees every six years or so bow to me in unison, all the thousands of them at once. If someone knows what this phenomenon is, would you let me know?

My payback is the general disregard for my presence. I interrupt possums and coons sharing the cat food bowl out back with Skitty, the partially feral outdoor cat with red pants who lives outside in a little house I built for him because his indoor manners border on the unsanitary. I put out extra and look the other way. But sometimes, I have to stand there to be sure that Skitty gets his share. "Doesn't your mama cook for you?" I say to the littlest ones who barrel off the porch at the sight of me. They have yet to learn what their elders know - that I'm a harmless old dumpling that welcomes them and talks rough. The birds will alight just above my head in the same passionless disregard.

But the coming in the house is a new behavior. Although, I've seen many a black paw and arm feeling under the large crack at the bottom of the door and a ratty tail or two swishing contentedly there as a possum cosied up to the cat food bowl. Curiosity to see if there's a wildlife version of aisles with cans of possum food may be it. Well. The tree that I grew from a little nut just outside the back door, now 30 feet tall is showing promising signs of fruiting. I'm happy to report that this year I'll be adding avocados to their fare.


Pam said...

When I was a kid, my father's hobby was rehabilitating birds of prey. Our backyard was full of enormous cages that the hawks and owls could recuperate in until they were well enough to go back into the wild.

My father loved wildlife. He let our backyard go wild so that the animals would have a place to live. He brought a hollowed-out tree and dumped it in the back yard and it later became home to many a critter. He would pile up sticks into big piles too, for the animals to hide in. He then let all the wild raspberry bushes grow rampant, and also the "umbrella" plants and ferns to grow to their content. He did plow paths through the backyard so we could walk back there on nature walks!

Our neighbors hated our lawn, because it was not perfectly manicured like theirs. The kids used to threaten to beat me and my siblings up because of it. But I loved it. It was like a jungle.

He also had numerous bird feeders he built himself and also squirrel feeders!

I have very good memories of all the animals in my life during my childhood. I think what you have now sounds wonderful!

queenlint1 said...

What a wonderful story! Your dad and I would have gotten along famously! We also host several raptors including owls, different hawks, falcons, and eagles. Then there are the water birds! I think that an unkempt place in a yard should be a part of our pennance for having taken so much of the Earth for our use.