Skirmishes

On these cool-ish mornings I watch from my doorway as the hummers come to the two feeders I’ve set up. There appear to be about four juvies, though who can count such fast-moving flight artists.

I don’t know why they make hummingbird feeders with more than three holes. Perhaps in the land where they were designed, hummers know how to peacefully co-exist, but in our yard they behave much like humans. One feeder, one bird. If any other shows up, he or she is immediately urged to leave. Sometimes a few siblings can drink at the same feeder for a time, but mainly it seems to be, “This is mine. You beat it!”

Last summer I decided to hang a second feeder about a metre over and a metre lower than the main one. Occasionally I will see a bird at each, but more often the bird at the upper feeder will drive away the one wanting to light on the lower feeder. Sigh…

one hummingbird two feeders eight options zero tolerance

A few times this morning an oriole has come to the feeder to get his breakfast, so the syrup has gone down fast. I’m serving up a richer brew these days: 1 part sugar; 3 parts water. I’ve read they need more calories during migration — and that time will be coming soon. Though they be feisty little things, I hate to see them go.

I have a number of tubs of flowers on the step underneath the feeders, and planted two of them with red nicotiana this spring, thinking they’d appeal to hummers. As I observe, the hummers pretty much ignore the nicotiana blooms and seem to love my salvia and reddish-orange lantana blossoms. Duly noted for next spring. 🙂

I Witness A Mugging

Since my other domain is about to expire and I’m not sure what will happen when it doe or how my other blogs will be affected, I’ll re-post a few past stories. This was initially posted on March 25, 2012, the year I started blogging.

I Witnessed a Mugging Today…
…And Rescued the Victim With My Bare Hands!

One day fellow blogger Apronhead Lilly wrote about witnessing a murder: she saw a Cooper’s Hawk kill a blackbird in her back yard. I know that the cruelties of nature play out around me every day, but I’m so soft-hearted: I do sometimes intervene to prevent the slaughter of some helpless creature. The next day I had the chance to do just that.

I woke up from my afternoon doze in the recliner and found the living room quite warm, so I went out sat on the side deck — not a deck, exactly, but a corner platform where our steps come up to our side door. Because it was sunny and mild I left the door open in case one of the cats wanted to join me, and Angus did a few moments later. Then, bored with my inaction, he went to snoop under the stairs to our main entrance.

Suddenly he dashed into the house and I decided to get up and shut the door. Then I saw him inside — with something hanging from his mouth. He’d snagged a mouse? “Outside!” I insisted several times, but he just stood there looking at me.

Closer inspection revealed that what he had was a little junco. He had it by one shoulder, but it was still twitching. Likely he’d brought it in to play with and here I was, being such a wet blanket. I ordered him outside again, fearing he’d let the thing go and we’d have to chase it all over the trailer. When he didn’t budge, I picked him up and carried him out, thinking he’d let go of it any second, but he was still holding the bird when I dumped him on the deck.

Then I reached down and pried his mouth open. Unmugged, the bird flew away–showing no sign of injury. He dashed after it, but it settled in the caragana hedge and he never did catch it again. I tried to impress on him our “NO BIRDS” rule; I doubt it sank in. To him a bird is a toy and that’s that.

Anyway, now I could say that I prevented a murder today. 🙂

I wrote a story once about a little elephant that finds a child and sort of befriends it. Later he sees his child friend asleep and a huge snake is about to swallow the child, so the elephant intervenes: he stomps the snake flat.

“No, no, no!” said my writing school instructor. “You can never have your main character commit a murder!”

“But it’s a snake! All children know that being swallowed by a snake is bad.” No dice. I had to cut out all the violence. He could chase the snake away, but not stomp on it.

I figured a child reader would identify with the little elephant, but I hadn’t considered that a snake would be seen as an animal — and of equal value, too. In my books, a snake is a reptile. I suppose you couldn’t have the family cat, if it talked, catch a mouse and eat it, either. Life gets complex in the world of “correct” children’s literature. We never thought of all this back in the days of Sylvester and Tweetie Bird.

Empty Nesters Again

Good afternoon — or whatever time of day it is as you read this note. The storms and cold a few days ago have passed again and we’re enjoying a lovely summer afternoon. Crops and gardens are soaking up the sunshine; having soaked up last week’s rain they’re growing abundantly.

Last Thursday the last of our sheltered nestlings discovered the wonders of the wide world outside their cozy home. These are the barn swallow babies which have grown up in our garage. (It’s open along the top sides when the rafters join the sides walls, lacking the siding and finishing touches. (Next big project.)

I didn’t notice their nest until it was built, and since barn swallows are a threatened species and it’s against the law to tear down a nest finished and in use, I spread old vinyl tablecloths under it, parked outside, and left them be. They’re with us such a short time.

Four eggs hatched. Sadly, one baby fell to its death, but the other three are vigorous and are out exploring the yard as I write this. Now we can reclaim our garage while they devour the mosquitoes whose bites have given me red lumps and so much torment this summer. I’ve had some pretty severe reactions after being outdoors this summer, though I’m not sure if it was always mosquitoes or some other tiny creature.

For the past couple of months WordPress has been notifying me that my domain Christine Composes is about to expire and I should renew it. Like my original poetry blog, Swallow in the Wind, it was a neat name for the time, but I’ve decided to just let it go.

The only glitch might be that some of you may be subscribed to that domain name and been automatically switched to this site when I moved. If you stop getting my blog posts after August 13th, please resubscribe to christinegoodnough.com.

As I said, I brought several sites together here and am not sure how each reader will be affected, but I plan to post something every morning for the next couple of weeks so you can be sure that you’re still subscribed.

Wishing you all the best!