Wednesday, February 15, 2012

15 FEB 12

Drama on a very small stage...
In front off my house stands a large cherry tree.
There is a cavity in the trunk, about 6 feet up from the ground.
For the past twenty years, I've watched female squirrels
clean and re-stuff this cavity with leaves so it could be
used as a den for giving birth.
Predators are sparse here... except for the raptors.
We have a healthy population of Cooper and Red Tail hawks.
Watched a Red Tail ambush a young squirrel near the den the other day.
They played "Ring Around The Tree Trunk" for about 30 minutes.
The hawk finally gave up on the game.
The squirrel had the advantage here, scrabbling to keep the fat
bole of the tree between itself and the hunter.
Made for a good show.
However, the hawk now knows where the den is.
I've noticed it, watching, perched in the top of a nearby tree.

From a different season...
Was returning home, climbing the steps to my front porch
when I heard a loud, angry buzzing. At the other end of the porch,
up in the eves, was a large spider's web. That's where the
buzzing was coming from. The web was vibrating and shaking.
In the center was a mass, a shape, writhing to and fro. I immediately
thought that the spider had snagged a large beetle... but on closer
inspection, what was in the web was a white-faced hornet. It and the
spider were engaged in a titanic fight to the death. The struggle lasted
all of one minute, until the hornet extricated itself from the web and
flew away. I thought it to be a stroke of good luck for the insect until
I realized that the spider was nowhere to be seen. The hornet had
captured it, taken it away... an act which begged the question of just
who had been hunting who in this desperate encounter.

                                      ( ...the bell tolls for thee, Arachnid )




December Crows

The black birds dance
On a crusted icy snow
The black birds dance

Scratching patterns 'round the base
Of a leafless winter tree
The black birds dance

Performance Art at seven a.m.
On a stage dressed spare and dimly bleak
At the murky start of day
The black birds dance

In and out they bob and weave
And flap and caw and squabble
And feed amid bits of looted trash
In the cold of dark December
The black birds dance
                                   -- Joseph Welsh (1997)

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