Dances with hummingbirds

Our homemade hummingbird feeders attach at approximately waist level to the two-by-four railing that runs around our second story porch.   This puts the hummers down with us when they stop by for refreshers between bouts of very small game hunting.   Once they arrive mid-April or so, we wind into the lives of these brilliant dynamos to the point of familiarity.   That is, we share the porch space freely, with the hummers chasing past our heads or otherwise threading their paths through ours. It becomes something of a dance, we humans walking along the porch or in the garden, the hummingbirds dipping, weaving, zipping around us.   Except for unusually marked birds, like one albinous male black-chinned that drops by, I can’t identify individuals.   Some of them, however, have no trouble recognizing me. Continue reading “Dances with hummingbirds”

Degrees of Coyoteness

As I walked out of a nearby canyon last week  using the same trail where I reported having an encounter with a curious coyote, my  nose  detected gases  given off by  putrefaction.   Somewhere nearby, bacteria were at work breaking down formerly living tissue to simpler matter, dispersing an organism’s worldly goods to its biological heritors.

To this we must all come.   But who has come to it now, and where?        

Walking deeper into the field of decomposition gases, I looked around, guessing what I would find.   I was approaching the gravel pit, a dumping ground for domestic and wild animal carcasses and the scene of occasional war crimes of the sort some people commit against animals.   It’s common to find coyote remains around the pit, along with elk and deer carcasses, tree prunings, the ashes of bonfires, articles of clothing, and aerosol cans—the residue of  “huffing” parties. Continue reading “Degrees of Coyoteness”