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Shannon Bardwell: Thorns, thistles and cormorants

 

Shannon Bardwell

 

My morning chores just increased by one. Cormorants have come to the lake, and I don''t think fire ant bites could annoy Sam more. As he leaves in the morning I mount the Gator and head yonder. The bad thing is my presence and the motor sound causes all the waterfowl to leave. Miss Grace is feeding at the west end. That''s what we call the white herons. They look so graceful. I turn toward the east, but she leaves anyway. The cormorants are circling, and the few that have landed take off. With them leaves a docile pair of ducks.  

 

I''ve learned to recognize the cormorants. They are black-dark and have long slender necks. Sam says each one can eat up to 1-1/2 pounds of fish a day. If I dilly-daddle heading to the lake, Sam says, "There goes 1-1/2 pounds." 

 

I put Jack and Jane, the cats, in the Gator with me for a few minutes. We sit peacefully looking at the greening of the earth. I keep thinking, if I can get the duo used to the Gator they will ride with me like dogs, but they won''t. As soon as I crank her up, off they leap, even the deaf one.  

 

After the cormorants leave, I ride through the field to the greenhouse and garden, noting ant mounds and thistles that have come with spring. Next to cormorants, Sam hates ant mounds and thistles; then bois d''arc thorns. 

 

That''s another entertainment we have here in the Prairie. Sam drives the Gator, or sometimes I do, and we hunt ant mounds and thistles. I see the thistles and remember:  

 

"[The ground] will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food ... " 

 

A rain shower has washed all the pollen and dust away, and I sit in the Gator peering over the picket fence. The cats rejoin me; I remember what my artist neighbor told me. "I think there are more shades of green than any other color." I think she''s right.  

 

The cats jostle over who is going to sit the closest. Jack gets mad and jumps out. He reminds me so much of myself sometimes I wonder, did we gravitate together because we''re alike, or did I make him like me? Nature or nurture? 

 

Jane and I continue watching the birds. The cats are old now; I think they enjoy watching the birds and remembering. The birds fight over the food. I can give them all the food they want, yet they fight. Can you imagine fighting over a morsel the size of a mustard seed? I can.  

 

Sam calls from the office, "Did you get rid of the cormorants? How many were there?" 

 

"A dozen or so, they were just coming in."  

 

"That''s what I thought. I saw a flock of them headed our way. I hate cormorants. Thank you for doing that for me." 

 

"My pleasure."

 

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.

 

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