Monday, February 15, 2010

Little Squirrel

The little one-eyed squirrel was on my bedroom patio this morning. I have written about him often. He was very tiny when he first appeared on my porch last spring, and there was an over-abundance of males in the territory at the time. The two boys from the year before were still around, and the mother squirrel had a girl and a boy. There was also the two males that live on the front of the property and the older male that hangs out by the garage that is separate from the house. Last spring, it seemed there was constant battles, and suddenly, the tiniest male showed up with a scratch on his eye.

At first, I thought he might have fought with another of the males, but there was something about the wound that made me think it might have come from a larger creature, perhaps even the hawk that makes its appearance in our yard. It was a pretty big wound, and it seemed infected. Still, he continued to come to my porch for sunflower seeds. He generally arrived later in the morning, after the older males had eaten their fill.

I prayed and prayed over him every time I saw him and I pictured him surrounded by healing, loving energy. I felt so helpless. I couldn't think of any other way to help him. I was afraid the infection would travel to other parts of his body. But somehow, the infection stopped. The oozing stopped, and slowly, gradually, his eye began to heal.

When the hawk showed up again this winter, all of the squirrels disappeared. I was particularly concerned about my one-eyed friend, who I sometimes call Uno, but most of the time, I call him Baby. Then he started appearing again a few days ago. It was such a relief, and an interesting moment. He was facing west when I saw him on the table, but I was certain it was him, and when I started to speak to him through the door, he turned his head to show me his eye, as if to let me know that it was him. The eye has healed, but I don't think his vision is completely restored. He still has a scar, and the eye only opens a sliver.

This morning, my husband noticed that some of the older squirrels were chasing each other and knocked the seed dish to the ground. It was broken in pieces, but the other squirrels had also eaten all the seeds. Then Uno arrived, and he sat on the table and looked at us through the door. My husband went outside and filled a bowl full of seeds, then took it to the porch, but when he walked through the doorway and poured the seed onto the table, Uno did not run away. Instead, he climbed onto the trellis, turned around, and watched. Steve said hello, then walked away. I think little Uno likes us. I am grateful that God has watched over him. He is a precious gift.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A New Visitor

We had a visitor on our porch last night that I have never seen before, but I knew what it was because the local paper did an article on them just last week. It's called a Ringtail, or a Miner's Cat. It was sitting on the back porch eating sunflower seeds around four in the morning. At first, I thought I was looking at my chihuahua! It has large ears, large eyes, the body of a cat and the tail of a raccoon. They are solitary animals that only get together to mate. They have a loud, barking sound, but they're generally very quiet and shy. They are also extremely agile and do things like flatten their bodies to squeeze into places. They even do cartwheels. They use their huge tails for balance. Their tails are much bigger than raccoons.

It was a wonderful experience. He was watching me through the window and sat on the table until the cat finally spotted him and ran to the door, then he took off. I had a feeling we've had more visitors lately because we've been going through so much food at night. Generally, after the raccoons leave, there's still a little food left for the birds and squirrels to hold them over until I get out of bed and fill their dishes, but lately, every last little seed disappears. My husband also said he thought he saw a cat leaving the garage late one night when he checked on the barking dogs, but when I looked out the window, I saw a raccoon tail, so I assumed it was a raccoon. I'm guessing it was the Ringtail.

Our house is filled with ladybugs. Our roof fell apart during all the rain and we had to wait a long time for the insurance agent to come check it out. When the roof started leaking my husband took down some tiles, and suddenly, our house is filled with ladybugs. They must be breeding in the ceiling. They are on my clothes, my computer, walls, ceiling, everywhere. I've tried to rescue as many as I could and put them back outside. It's sixty degrees out there right now so they should be happy!

The baby rabbits have definitely left their nest, but I think it's time to start watching for sparrow nests. I still have at least thirty of the original sparrows flocking around my house and I believe the hawk has moved on for good--we haven't seen him for a couple of weeks. I would love to set up some kind of sparrow apartment building for them, but it would be very tricky--between the squirrels, hawks, raccoons and ringtails, there sure are a lot of predators around here!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Butterfly

I am having so much physical pain with all the rain we've had lately. It just doesn't seem to want to ease up, but this is normal for Texas in the winter. I was up most of the night with a headache and it was difficult for me to get up this morning, but I forced myself to get moving, to get dressed and do my yoga and greet my dogs because I knew they were standing at the kitchen door, waiting patiently for my loving arms.

We went outside to walk. It was such a light sprinkle of rain at the time I wouldn't even call it a drizzle. We walked past the carport and down to the road. While we walked, I was thinking about all of the changes I've experienced in my life lately, and how much I want to return to my routine of walking four and five times a day. I was also thinking about those lovely black and orange butterflies that kept appearing out of nowhere when it was warmer the past few weeks, landing on my shoulder or chest, just stopping by to say hello.

Then I called to the dogs and we all turned around to head back to the house, and as I raised my leg to step over a large rock, I looked down and saw a black and orange butterfly, resting on the rock, slowly opening and closing its wings. This, too, I know, was a gift from God. Not just the existence of the butterfly, not just the existence of the rain, and the fresh green smell and my precious dogs and the land we walk on each day, but the fact that the butterfly made its appearance, just at that moment, to remind me of God's love. This, too was a gift from God.

The squirrels have been eating more and more seeds lately. I think they eat extra to keep their bodies warm when its raining. I like the way they flip their tails up and over their heads like little umbrellas. There was a little boy on the porch this morning and he was eating very slowly, picking through the seeds, watching me as I typed on the computer. Then he put his paws down for awhile and just sat, watching me. I think he was enjoying the fact that he was out of the rain for awhile!

There was also a few teeny little birds on the back porch eating seeds. They looked even smaller than finches, but I don't think they were baby birds. I am hoping they will return today so I can get a closer look.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Hawk Sighting

It's still chilly, cloudy and misty. I moved all seeds from the back picnic table during the day, but I put some out at night for the raccoon twins. When they climb onto the light it triggers the motion sensor on the back door light and for some reason, I think they like this. They spend a lot of time sitting on that table while momma eats on my back porch, watching them through the doorway. So, before I go to bed, I put some seeds out on the table. I moved the bird bath to the table outside the den where the sparrows play during the day, but I kept a small dish of water on the back picnic table for the raccoons.

My goal was to discourage birds and squirrels from sitting on the table because I think this makes them targets for the hawk. I thought I was successful because I haven't seen the hawk for five days. However, as he was driving up the drive this evening, the hawk flew in front of my husband's truck, very low, in front of the windshield so Steve could get a clear view. I think he was trying to let us know this is his territory and he intends to stay.

Unfortunately, after I found the pile of feathers indicating the hawk had eaten one of the rare white-winged doves, I have not seen another white-winged dove on the property. This fall, we had a flock of ten or twelve of them. I doubt the hawk got them all. They have most likely moved on to safer grounds.

My neighbor was burning wood in his yard a few days ago and I noticed he seemed to be upsetting the birds in the trees on the other side of the creek on our property. They were making quite the racket and flying from tree to tree. What surprised me was how many of them were over there at the time. I was also surprised that they didn't simply fly into the forest behind our property and wait for the smoke to clear. It was so noisy, it was almost as if they were yelling at him. It made me wonder if maybe there are birds on that side preparing nests already.

Although it does seem early, there are signs of spring. The early bulbs are popping up and I have one daffodil and three bluebonnets blooming on the property, which doesn't seem like much considering we live on four acres, but they are signs of spring!