NEWS FLASH TWO: We had another bat find her way into the trailer. A brown coloured bat.
“Oh look, I recognize that building.” That kind of thing.
Suddenly, we beheld a shadow pass in front of us. It is always startling to suddenly behold a shadow passing in front of you. Especially when you are tucked away in your living room, feeling safe from the night’s darkness, which you know is outside licking at your windows. It’s like being in the Stephen King movie, “Salem’s Lot”. And bats do look like tiny Count Draculas and they have some very scary looking teeth.
The bat disappeared somewhere in the vastness of our trailer. We couldn’t find her. No matter where we looked. So we went to bed, after shutting the bedroom door, and putting a towel under the door so the bat couldn’t get into the bedroom.
At two am I was awakened by the sound of silky wings cutting through the air. My first thought was it was gentle snoring but I discounted that idea. So I grabbed my little flashlight and scattered the darkness. And there she was. Flying around our bedroom. Trying to escape. We’d locked her in.
She landed on our window screen. I shut the window, trapping her between the window and the screen. She frantically tried to escape, making us feel sorry for her as she used her small feet and wings to search for a small opening to squeeze through. We could hear her wings and feet tapping on the glass.
So, rather than leave her there until morning, when we might have been more rested and more able to deal with the bat, we dealt with the problem right then and there. We went outside into the drizzle. At two a.m. I climbed a ladder and removed the screen. Which allowed the poor little bat to fly free into the night sky.
We also taped the cracks around the oil furnace grates. Again.
I have walked out in rain - and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.”
Robert Frost, Acquainted with the Night
Why do I ask? Well, you see, it’s like this. Last week I decided to begin a little building project. Any building project I initiate usually leads to some kind of problem. In this case I wanted to build a bookshelf. We needed another one because we have a trailer full of books.
I began by setting up the two little metal horses. Got out my battery-operated Black and Decker tools, a level, a tape measure, a pencil and etc. I then grabbed a six-foot length of pine and cut the wood to the required length. You should note that what I mean by required length is defined as the length I think is needed. Not necessarily what is required.
So what could I do that would make things go the way they usually go when I begin a building project? I know my limitations. Oh yes I do.
Well, I could lose a tool for a time, or forever. Check.
I could cut a piece of wood and find out it wouldn’t fit. Check.
I could put in the shelf holders and find out they aren’t level because of inaccurate measurements. Check.
Hold on. Here comes the hook to this whole story.
I could carry a long piece of pine wood out of the woodshed and inadvertently knock the top off a hornet’s nest. Check.
The hornets rushed out. Yes, they did. Luckily it was a small nest so there weren’t that many in there. I think it was still under construction.
Anyway, the hornets buzzed around me while I was cutting the said pine board. That’s how I noticed them. Because they were buzzing around my head while I was cutting the wood. The hornets were pointing out the damage I’d done to their decapitated prefab. But they didn’t sting me.
I packed up the horses and the tools and the wood and moved closer to our two-bedroom complex. Where I finished sawing what I planned to saw for the day. I then put the equipment away. Because I planned to work on it some more another day. It was very hot.
Where I asked Sue the same deep, probing questions that I asked at the beginning of this story.
Do insects have memories? Are they empathetic to my wants and needs? Was he curious? Was he worried that I might be planning to come back and nick off another one of their additions? Did he remember the bad things that happened when he heard the sound of my Black and Decker? Did it give him an anxiety attack?
Another question hit me too. How far down the food chain is the hornet and how far up or down the food chain are we? Are we as high as we think we are?
We have many birds at our two seed feeders, our one suet feeder and our one hummingbird feeder. We have blackbirds, red-wing blackbirds, chickadees, evening grosbeaks, starlings, juncos, purple finches, blue jays, crows, ravens, pine siskins, hummingbirds and others we haven’t identified.
In the morning, I often found the big metal garbage pail down by the riverside. Not waiting for the glory land to descend, I can tell you that. But luckily the top always stayed on.
However, one morning, I found the pail in the bushes with the top off and what was left of the seeds spilled onto the ground. Oh my, but those raccoon consumers must have had a party. (The word ‘consumers’ having a different meaning from the label the economists give us in their make-believe world.)
So, I moved the garbage pail to the side porch. We used two bungee cords to tie the pail to the porch and one to seal down the top. That night we heard a terrible racket as the coons tried to complete their new work order.
Next morning’s report: A metal garbage pail seen lying under the main deck. Two bungee cords seen to be tied to the side porch. The top wrestled part way off the garbage pail with the bungee cord still attached. Seeds spilled and eaten.
I’d fix that! Yes, siree. I put the seed pail in the woodshed with Grinder, my tools, the firewood, empties and etc. Then I shut the door. That would teach them.
Raccoon Work Order for following night: Go unto the deck and tear open the garbage, recycling, and compost pails. Which created a terrible racket around midnight. So I got up and got outside just in time to see a coon trying to roll the pail down the steps.
I shouted and he bolted. Stopped fifteen feet from the deck. Watched me return the pail to its place. When my task was completed I looked to my right and saw the coon staring at me through the deck’s railings. I felt like a zoo creature being stared at. The coon had the whole dark world to himself. I had my porch and the porch illumination.
The universe seems cramped to you and me.”
Robert Frost, "The Bear"
I was quite aggressive, assertive and rude. Then I went inside. Walked into the living room and looked out one of our new windows. Watched the raccoon walk across the lawn. Away from the trailer. He had his head down and looked depressed. To tell you the truth, his walk and posture made me think I had hurt his feelings.
And I felt sorry for him. Felt empathy. Wondered if I should run out onto the porch and shout. “Oh, I’m sorry. Please don’t go away mad. I promise I’ll try to be nicer.” That sort of thing.
Did the raccoon understand my language and the tone it was said in? Some Indigenous people believe that animals can understand our words.
I will tell you this. The coons haven’t touched our garbage pails since I gave that one coon the what-for lecture. However, two mornings later, our flower garden was dug up. Was it done out of vengeance? And even though we are now laying down moth balls and moth balls in packets and sprinkling cayenne pepper around the flowers, the coons are still coming back. If only to knock over a flower pot or to poop near the deck.
We’ve been told to piss around our flowers. I feel more like saying, “Piss on them all”.
I put down my groceries. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending.
Yes, we go from one story to another. Because nature fills our lives with a kind of reverse cosmopolitan life-style. And it does make us wonder as the needs of THE CONSUMERS encroach ever more.
and at last his low whine as he came
floor by empty floor to the room
where I sat
in my narrow bed looking west, waiting
I heard him snuffle at the door and
as he trotted across the floor
He laid his long gray muzzle
on the spare white spread
and his eyes burned yellow
his small dotted eyebrows quivered
Yes, I said.
I know what they have done."
Mary TallMountain, "The Last Wolf"
Was this a Bird Feeder 01 course? Was it?
Where are we actually located on the food chain?
What would happen if we gave the crows two hands?
Our river plays a good game of poker. We do not let her worried countenance, her I-have-no-hand expression trick us. We know she has something up her sleeve.