Menagerie

I could very well have become a crazy cat lady. It is a known fact. Fortunately, I have lured myself a husband into my odd little life and have also now become a parent, so in truth, full-on “crazy cat lady” status is now beyond my reach.

But still, we have 4 cats — oops, I mean, 3 cats and one ghost-of-a-cat periodically possessing the other cats when she has something to say, fancies some fast food, or is just generally in the mood to be a weenie. So we should, at least, have some sort of honourary crazy cat family status.

Truth is, though, I am a bit nutty about animals. I like them. They like me. It is a relationship that has grown over the years to include all sorts of animals, domestic and not so much, and envelops the furry, the feathered and even some of the scaly variety. As you well know, many bugs do NOT enjoy favoured status — ESPECIALLY EARWIGS. And in this, I could never be a Buddhist, because I have NO problem with seeing the end of an earwig’s life as it meets the bottom of BDH’s shoe.

I am lucky that my husband is also a soft touch for animals (admittedly, mostly just the furry ones). We both firmly embrace what we call The Secret Life of Animals, which basically means we think of animals in much the same way as you’d see them in a Far Side comic: hugely anthropomorphized, with a touch of Daffy Duck thrown in.

It makes life fun.

Our home is in a great location for this, backing onto conservation land as we do, making it easy to be entertained by the local wildlife. Look out our back windows at any time, and you are bound to see someone of the non-human variety milling about the yard, hanging out in the field beyond, or sitting on a fence getting his fluff on.

In recent days we have seen:

  • Squirrels x infinity. Black, grey and brown, we see them all. There are a few that come up the steps to the door, waiting for peanuts with hands worrying in front of them like a character from Oliver Twist with his gruel bowl, head tilted to one side. “Please sir, may I have some more?” There are also two mamas that come up, so we make sure they get something to eat, as well as a skittish little guy with a big scar on his face. There’s only one brown one, and he makes the squirrel from Ice Age look positively sedate.
  • A chipmunk with half a tail that we have named Pip.
  • Bluejays of various size and boldness. One sat on the fence last night and went “FOOF!” and fluffed himself up to the size of a small blimp. We like the ones that bring the comedy.
  • Four mourning doves. Two couples who come to the feeder and sit on opposite sides, across from each other, like they’re at a dinner party. Mourning doves are astoundingly stupid, so you will often see one or more of them out there in a blinding storm, too dumb to seek shelter.
  • A shrew who lives under the black-eyed susans on our patio. He chews very loudly and can’t see too well, but he’s cute nonetheless.
  • Lots of robins and red-winged blackbirds. And of course, a bevy of grackles. (That’s the official collective noun for grackles — “a bevy”. Or if it is not, it should be.)
  • A baby bunny.
  • A young jackrabbit.
  • Zippy the groundhog.
  • The odd garter snake. They are stealthy and we often only see them when they’re all “OH CRAP!! PEOPLE!!” and skittering away. But there used to be a couple who lived under the drainspout in our patio garden. I think that ended when Mr. Shrew moved in.
  • Various and sundry deer, of varying age and size, including several saucy ones who walk along and eat my flowers without a care as to whether I am standing there or not.

This list obviously doesn’t include the friends we DON’T see, like the raccoons that regularly tip over the feeder and try to take it home with them, the skunks we don’t see but definitely smell, and the legendary Three-Legged Coyote that is reported to be living around these parts, no doubt with his coyote pals.

It’s provided us with endless amusement, watching all our friends come and go. Yesterday, Pip got all feisty with the baby bunny, and there was endless chasing and hopping. Pip got game, I am just sayin’.

One of the things that keeps us living here in this badly-designed house of sticks is the wildlife, and the chance to have these things around us. Location, location, location. We have seen other homes we’d consider, except for the fact that we’d miss all the critters, and looking out on the trees, and the quiet.

Wouldn’t miss the earwigs, though. I gotta be honest.