Friday, August 28, 2009

Animals are People, Too

The other day I was sunning on the deck and I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. A squirrel was making his way across our back yard with an hydrangea blossom in his mouth. I don't know much about the habits of squirrels, but from what I've heard their preferred foods run along nut-and-acorn lines... so I wondered what on earth he was planning on doing with it. As I watched, he made his way carefully across the backyard - the blossom was large, so it was slow going - and climbed up a nearby tree. He worked his way to the end of a large branch, where he sat patiently for ten minutes or so, the bloom perched delicately in his mouth. Was he trying to attract a mate? Did he offend Mrs. Squirrel in some way, and was trying to get back in her good graces? Were his reasons more practical - a good pillow, perhaps? After a bit he scampered away, so I'll never know.

One brisk morning I was sitting on the steps of our back porch, soaking in some late fall sun. My eyes were closed, and I heard movement directly in front of me, a kind of rustling. I assumed it was the dog, until I heard a low garbling sound, and I opened my eyes to see a huge wild turkey standing about three feet away. He was the size of a medium sized dog, and he was staring at me expectantly. "Hello?" I tried. Then, "Gobble?" He said nothing, just stood there, looking all superior. I waved my arms a bit hoping to shoo him away, he was freaking me out a little, and he took a step closer. It was awkward - he seemed to be waiting for something - food? a hug? an apology for the whole Thanksgiving thing? I got the impression he would have stood there indefinitely if the dog hadn't realized what was going on and come bounding out of the house. The turkey spread his huge wings - I didn't even know they could fly, for crying out loud - and soared up to the very top of a huge pine tree, where he resumed his hateful staring. I slipped back inside, feeling oddly guilty.

A few months ago I was cleaning up breakfast, and heard a loud, tinny sound from outside the front door - a ping.... ping.... ping. The noise would stop for a few moments, then from further away, like an echo, more pinging. After five minutes or so my curiosity got the better of me, and I poked my head out the front door to see what it was. It took me a few minutes to realize a little bird - no bigger than a sparrow - was perched atop the metal electronics box at the top of the telephone pole at the end of our driveway. He would cock his head, wait a bit, and the peck repeatedly at the box, creating a startlingly loud PING. Then, after 30 seconds or so, a distant answer ... another little bird was pinging back to him from a telephone pole up the road. Birdy morse code? A high tech way to attract a mate? Why wouldn't they just chirp to each other? It reminded me of the coffee-can-and-string telephones I would make with my neighbor when I was girl. We could totally call each other on the phone, but why do that when the other way is so much fun?

Last year I was sitting at my computer near an open window, and I heard a loud crashing sound in the woods. I looked out the window, and it took me a few minutes to see the large male deer standing about 25 feet away, slowing making his way through the woods - he was heading towards the road. Then, more crashing, and I realized there was an entire family of deer coming up behind him - a doe, and two smaller deer - not fawns, but more like teenagers. They cautiously worked their way right up to the edge of the road. Cars were rushing by, and my stomach lurched at the thought that I was about to witness something horrible. As I was debating whether to run out towards the road to stop any oncoming cars, the buck put one hoof on the road, stuck his head out and looked left, then right, then left again - as if he had been watching Noggin and knew the proper way to check for traffic. Seeing none, he huffed once through his nose, tossed his head, and the little family darted across the road and into the woods on the other side, with him following safely behind.


  1. i believe that animals come into our lives as an incarnation of messages/spirits that have come to say "hello." it seems like you have lots of messages coming your way! enjoy!!

  2. How beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Turkeys scare me. I don't know why, I just get creeped out by them. And apparently, they don't think much of me either as every time I go to the orchard or a petting zoo-type place, I'm the one getting charged, wings open, tail fanned. Yeah, that's me jumping up on the fence screaming like a 5 year old girl.

  4. I am the biggest animal sucker known to the kingdom. I've always had an animal in my life (dog, bird--he died last year & on the anniversary of his death, 10 days ago, I cried like a baby--he has an obit on our website, and now we have a dog & cat) and my T-hub & I constantly remark how empty and sad peoples lives must be w/o animals b/c they provide us so much laughter, love & happiness!!

  5. How beautiful! Thanks for sharing!