Field Notes #5

From time to time, someone asks why I don’t write about the meaner, nastier  side of nature, especially the predator-prey drama.   Until I go on that man-eating African lion-hunting trip  or bag  me an Alaskan  grizzly or happen to be on hand when a puma takes down a mule deer buck, I just don’t have much to offer on predator vs. prey.   Sorry.

However, something did come to mind the other day, musings upon a kind of predator-prey relationship that I jotted down in my hiking journal as I  strolled through Crossfire.   It isn’t pretty, but I thought I’d pass it along.

Warning: This post shows Patricia in a mood.   If you’re in a mood today,  you might want to skip this one.      

May 21, 2009

Overcast, humid, cooler-that-has-been morning.   I set out for Coyote Way, the trail  leading down into Crossfire Canyon.   As usual, I pass my mouldering friend,  the dead coyote    lying  off to one side of  the trailhead.   I stop to look at him whenever I take  this path.    

After a month of decompostion he  looks considerably worse for wear, though that lovely triangular earform  still holds  up well.    Gone, the  shine and softness his coat had when he was first dumped.    Matted patches have loosened, as if  he were going through a heavy shed,  or  they have been peeled back  in the course of some  other  scavenger’s work.   A gaping entrance into his inner cavern has formed in his side.     His coat has taken on the patina of old carpet  across whose nap mud has  been tracked  and into whose fibers a wide variety of liquids has soaked.   The flies that earlier clouded his vicinity have gone through their cycle; no insects are visible, though something must be creeping  through the body.  Every time I stop here, I wonder how and why  this animal  died.   Anything could have happened, but the dominant reason folks kill these animals—if, in fact, he was killed—can usually be summed up in this word: competition.

 A week ago, winds  blowing up out of the canyon carried the scent of  the coyote’s chemical crush into the earth.   Today, cliffrose pollen lightly perfumes  breezes  swirling past. Continue reading “Field Notes #5”


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”

Lawnmowing limericks at WIZ

I have a clown phobia and a  lawnmower phobia.   If you want to  drive me over the edge,  hire a clown and send  him to mow my lawn.  

But since it isn’t technically clown  season and is most definitely lawnmowing season, I thought it would be interesting, and  hopefully fun, to  try a lawnmowing limerick thread.    If you would like to contribute, here are the rules:

1. Your poem must scan and rhyme  according to good limerick form:   a more-or-less  anapestic line pattern, 3-3-2-2-3, rhyme scheme a a b b a.     Example:

There was an old soldier of Bister
Went walking one day with his sister,
When a cow at one poke
Tossed her into an oak,
Before the old gentleman missed her.
                                                                  Nursery Rhymes, Mother Goose

2.    Clever/humorous is good; tasteless/off-colored  is bad.   See WIZ’s submissions guide.

3.   Your limerick must address the humor, ironies, or  downright absurdities  of growing and mowing grass lawns.   Or, if you’re a lawnmowing enthusiast, write a limerick  defending this most  noisy and noxious  warm weather  ritual.

4.   Add your limerick to this thread in the comments section of this post.   That way, we’ll have them lined up to be read in succession.

My first:

The grass lawn is a curious invention;
Out West, a most wondrous convention.
There folks force it to grow,
And then they’re forced to mow,
And to Roundup them weeds, not to mention.

Coming out of torpor

Last Friday night my son dug two of the last three holes needed to set our remaining fruit tree starts.   We didn’t manage to plant any of them that night  because he and my daughter needed to gather their things together for the early start they faced the next morning.   They were to travel to Moab to take tests for advancement in their Shorinji Kempo classes, and I had to get them to the local Chevron at 7:30 a.m. sharp so they could carpool with the rest of their group.

That morning, after dealing with the €œgotcha € moment of my key breaking off in the car’s ignition at the Chevron, I arrived home to attend to the trees.   Planting trees by yourself is a bit tricky, especially with the hammerhead winds we had Saturday (again!) but not impossible.   The kids wouldn’t be back till mid-afternoon.   I didn’t want to make the trees wait another minute for return to more natural circumstances, especially since the stock was bare root. Continue reading “Coming out of torpor”