Friday, September 4, 2009

baby snakes and baby birds

I saw a tiny baby garter snake this morning slipping beneath the hundred year agaves. It had a yellow stripe down its back and two white stripes running beside the yellow, and its head was almost black. It was only about six or eight inches long. I heard it before I saw it as it moved across the dried leaves and mulch. When I knelt beside it and spoke in a soft voice it paused and turned its head toward me the way the baby lizards do when they hear my voice. Then the dog ran up beside me and the snake tried to climb the cement retaining wall, but it was too small. I told Buddy to sit and we both stood very still, watching as the snake tried to find its way to a safer place. It finally turned back toward me and slithered beneath the oregano leaves at my feet. It was so tiny, but I could still see the tip of its tail sticking out. When it was settled and confident that it was hidden, Buddy and I walked back into the house.

We have been tracking the birds around the house and I am certain now that the baby birds from all three nests are still living on our property. Some of them stay in the forest behind the house, but the small brown birds seem to be living in the trees in the front yard. The cardinals are starting to look less like teenagers and a little more like adults. They looked so awkward for awhile. They look far more mature now. I have to admit, though, that when their feathers were changing, they really did look beautiful in their own way. Innocent, even a little naive.

The hummingbirds seem to be increasing their activity, which surprised me. I thought they would be moving on by now, migrating further south, but they're not. In fact, we are seeing more of a variety. In addition to the ruby-throated birds, we are also seeing birds with sparkling green backs, and birds with gray patterns on their chest and throat. They are all so delicate, and yet, when they circle around each other, fighting for a spot at the feeder, they also appear to be tough and resilient, like little scrappers. I love watching them. There was eight of them at the back door this afternoon, swooping and diving and chasing each other. When I took the dogs out, they continued to fly around my head, seemingly oblivious to my presence. They fly so close to me sometimes that I can feel the air against my cheek from the flutter of their wings, and their song is a lovely musical chirp that is almost as delicate in sound as their tiny bodies.

I see more and more baby lizards each day, too. We had a record baby lizard hatching this year. I was working in the side garden yesterday, transplanting rosemaries, when I disturbed a tiny lizard with black stripes running down its back. I stopped to speak to it and it paused and bobbed its head the way they do when they hear soft sounds, and just as it started to move away I noticed a baby anole a few inches beyond us, and the large, dragon-like lizard who lives on the side wall scampered past and into the rocks, as well. I haven't seen the road runner in our yard since spring, which may explain why we have so many lizards running around.

I found two scorpions in the house this morning. One was on my yoga mat when I got out of my shower. The other was in the doorway leading from the den into the kitchen. I was worried at first that the one in the doorway might have stung one of my dogs because they were all acting a little strange, then I realized they were just whining because they wanted to go outside. The scorpion on the yoga mat was curling its tail, ready to strike my cat. The one in the doorway was lying flat and almost dead. I keep thinking they are slowing down because the weather is changing, but I guess not. I do love all of God's wonderful little creatures, but there are some that I wish would stay in the forest behind our house!

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