Wednesday, February 18, 2009

butterfly Season

It was 81 degrees today and a stunningly beautiful day, but it must be butterfly season in the Hill Country because the air was filled with butterflies! I came inside after walking the dogs and there was an orange butterfly attached to my pants. I let it crawl into my hand then took it outside and it just sat on my hand for awhile. I mix lavender oil with my hand lotion. It was probably enjoying the scent.

The cascading rosemary in my side yard are all blooming with masses of tiny blue flowers and whenever I walked past them this morning small clouds of butterflies would drift up from the plants. I stood in front of the large picture window in my living room and stared out at our massive front lawn which is still covered in dried grasses since it is early spring, but as I watched, I could see tiny flickers of movement. The longer I concentrated on this view, the more butterflies I could see. I'm not sure what they were landing on out there, but there were hundreds of them flickering about! In some spiritual traditions, the appearance of butterflies are a symbol of change and transmutation. Considering the warm weather we had today, I can certainly believe the butterflies were showing us that spring is on the way!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Visiting Vulture

I was walking the dogs this morning and when we returned, they suddenly ran to the side of the house as if chasing something. Buddy, the playful one, started jumping up and down and barking, but not in a threatening way. I recognized this bark from Buddy. I'd heard it before and knew he was barking at a large bird...or perhaps something he thought he could eat. Sure enough, there was a vulture on a post staring down at us.

It was a black vulture, and black vulture have been known to eat dogs, cats, deer and young animals. I put the dogs in the house and walked back to the post. The vulture was still there. I said hello and talked to him, but he didn't fly away. He cocked his head from side to side the way Buddy does when I talk to him. I always imagine they hear me the way the children hear the grownups in the Charlie Brown cartoons, a sound that is garbled and goofy. I tried to imagine what the vulture was thinking as he stared down at me. He didn't seem intimidated by my presence at all, but I cannot imagine there is much that would intimidate a bird that size. He was there far longer than I expected, watching me. Then he flew off and his white-tipped wings made a sound very much like boat sails catching the wind. He circled back around twice and I suspect that he still watched me. This time, I didn't back away. I stood my ground, staring up at him unafraid, and I think this made him curious. He finally caught a breeze, flew in a circle and started on his rounds, circling around the house, then the forest, then off into the valley.

In animal medicine spiritual traditions it is believed that once a vulture has entered your life, its totem is always with you. Vultures symbolize life and death. Vultures tell us that no matter how difficult and challenging life may seem at the moment, there is always change, there will be relief, and tomorrow will be a better day.

Or perhaps he was trying to warn me that he planned to eat my cat!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Baby Lizard

Saving a life is a wonderful feeling, even if the living creature is very, very small.

I was working outside today in unseasonably warm weather and I noticed two lizards on the walls of our house. It occurred to me that they might need some clean water so I checked the little creature pond and sure enough, the water was filthy with leaves and dirt from the wind storm two nights ago. I had a strange feeling that there was something in the water, but I couldn't see anything because it was too dirty, so I just let it continue to slowly drain through the hose.

I checked on it again about half an hour later and sure enough, there was a tiny, gray, baby lizard floating around the bottom of the pond.

It appeared to be dead. Its claws were clumped together and bent. It was limp, and a little stiff even. Still, I knew I couldn't walk away from the little creature. I pulled the lizard out and held it in my hands, hoping my body heat would bring it around, but it was very stiff. I was about to set it in the dirt and considered burying it, then I saw the slightest movement around the eyes. I still wasn't sure, so I sat in a nearby chair and continued to share my warmth. Still no movement. I set it on the dirt and started to walk away, then realized I just couldn't leave the little thing alone. It looked so helpless, and the water in that pond was icy cold. Perhaps the cold had kept it alive.

I picked it back up and held it in my hand for another half an hour. Suddenly, it lifted its head, then dropped it back down. I gently placed it on a warm rock and stepped away, and sure enough, it lifted its head again. I held my hand over its back, hoping I could still share my warmth that way. Another fifteen minutes later and it raised its head once more, glancing quickly in my direction.

I checked on the lizard throughout the day. An hour later, it had staightened its little claws. Half an hour after that its legs were in a more natural position. Then it moved. It raised its head and raised itself up on its legs. The next time I checked on it, the baby lizard was crawling under a nearby rock. I feel fairly certain it will live another day.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I'm home..and so are the animals!

I've been traveling for months and a neighbor watched my house. I thought I left plenty of food for the squirrels and birds, but when I returned, the land around my little circular house was ominously quiet. I immediately ran outside and started filling the bird feeders and water dishes and within a few hours the animals returned. Sigh.

I noticed in my trellis area outside my bedroom that a little creature pulled down one of the citronella candles and ate around the outside. It may have been attracted to the lemon scent. At first, I thought it was the owl that hangs out near my bedroom door sometimes, but it could have been the squirrels.

This morning, my turtle pond outside my bedroom window was packed with a large flock of birds. They almost looked like red-breasted robins but they have white rims around their eyes. There were so many they took up every space on the rocks and branches surrounding the pond. They dipped their beaks into the water then tilted their heads back to let it trickle down their throats. They looked like little bobbing toys. They were very alert, though, and I could tell they could see me through the window. I hope they come back. It was wonderful to watch.

The squirrels are happy I am home. They average a corn cob every two days. I set out sunflower seeds for the cardinals on the back picnic table and the squirrels have been foraging through the seeds, as well. I also added a water bowl for the birds in the back and now the squirrels use the water bowl instead of the turtle pond, which is probably better water anyway.

I haven't seen as many cardinals as I did last year, but I do have three mated pairs around the house. The male was drinking from the turtle pond earlier. He was a deep, intense red and rather large. I noticed the female on a nearby branch with her soft gray feathers and bright orange beak. The male flew over to the feeder and dug around, then returned and dropped something into her mouth. It was very sweet to watch. So romantic!