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”
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”
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.
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.
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”