Like everyone else, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home. Rather, I’ve been spending all my time at home. I’ve had to come up with new ways to entertain myself (because Netflix only offers a limited amount of quality programming before you reach the bottom of the barrel).
Luckily the summer weather has been great so I’ve been able to spend a lot of time in my backyard. My wife bought me a tented screen-house to make my afternoons outside more enjoyable. The canopy is nothing elaborate, but it serves its purpose offering me a sanctuary of my own. It has an indoor-outdoor rug for a floor, complete with comfortable chairs and a high-top table. A perfect area for me to brainstorm ideas for my writing and drawing. My yard is quiet and peaceful, private for the most part, and I have good neighbors anyway so that helps. It’s very conducive to my creative process. Since my wife works on the weekends, I have plenty of time pursuing solitary endeavors. I can’t use the excuse “I don’t have time” any longer because, well, suddenly I have all the time in the world.
My only distraction is the amazing amount of outdoor wildlife that travels through my yard on a daily basis. I’m hardly in the middle of nowhere. My yard is on the smaller side (a plus when I have to do yard work). And yet, I’ve had run ins with snakes (an ordinary garter snake supposedly). I’ve had the usual raccoons in the trash, the occasional feral cat, and an encounter with a large “mouse” who tried to make a home inside my gas grill (it escaped just before I thought I was going to have to turn on the burners to hasten its exit). There has been a turf war between opposing families of possums and skunks who fought to claim the territory under my three-season porch. I won that war by fortifying my foundation with heavy duty chicken-wire but not before some collateral damage from the skunk’s unique defensive mechanism. More like offensive mechanism, but nothing a gallon of barn deodorizer couldn’t fix. Then there was my wife’s cage match with a mole/shrew that somehow got inside our house. She trapped it under a shoe box that was eerily moving around the dining room floor on its own while the cats looked on in horror.
But that was all in the past. Today I have my bird-feeder positioned in an ideal spot so I can watch the comings and goings of sparrows and chickadees. I’m greeted most days by the cheerful chirps of the brilliant Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal. You can’t miss the screeching bluejays as they announce their arrival. Aggressive grackles try to claim the feeder as their own. When it’s quiet you can hear the whirring wings of mourning doves as they fly to-and-fro. I’ve seen yellow finches, red-headed woodpeckers and red-wing blackbirds. The birdbath is always full of clean water. I even saw a squirrel drinking from it on one of our hotter afternoons.
In all of this tedious downtime, I have returned to nature. Or nature has returned to me. Most mornings I’m welcomed by a brown rabbit when I open my back door to let in the fresh morning air. It twitches its nose, perks up its ears and smiles before it scampers off. Can rabbits smile? Maybe it’s just me.
Side note: As I type this, I notice something from of the corner of my eye. It’s a sliding movement, like water gliding over rocks. Out of nowhere, the snake has chosen this moment to return to add its two cents to my column. It looks to be about 2 feet long and its heading this way, so please excuse any typos. It’s a fast mover, too. That is a garter snake, right?