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Possumhaw: Learning to see

 

Shannon Bardwell

 

"You can observe a lot by watching."  

 

Yogi Berra 

 

 

 

Morning brought a cotton tail bunny. He didn't stay long but hopped away into a thicket while, nearby, a green heron perched on the dock.  

 

From the porch overlooking the pond, there was the reflection of a great egret circling; she swooped in gracefully and landed. She stalked the perimeter in that slow, halting motion. Sam and I refer to these egrets as "Grace," as in "Sam, Grace has landed on the pond."  

 

The carpenter ants I do not understand. They certainly aren't army ants; they go every which-a-way and run into each other. One was carrying a load three times its size. With a sheet of paper I lifted him to eye level. Even with bifocals I could not tell if he carries the load in his mouth or rests it on his head. The ant bumps into the cat curled up at my feet. Jack is unperturbed. The ant keeps bumping into him until it makes its way around, never waking the sleeping cat.  

 

The hummingbirds are buzzing from ash twig to black cherry twig. This morning they are dodging one another. It's a wonder they ever get to feed, as they refuse to share the eight feeding stations. The watermelon-colored crepe myrtles tip just above the porch rail and the hummingbirds spend a quick moment there. It is then I can see their bright ruby throats. 

 

A skink darts out from beneath the flower pot. The skinks are beautiful, in a lizard sort of way. The young skink has a vivid blue tail that can break; the tail wiggles and distracts the predator while the skink gets away. The aging skink loses the blue and may turn rosy orange on its body and head.  

 

One geriatric skink found himself trapped in an empty flower pot. He looked dry as he eyed me pleadingly. I misted him with my water bottle while he gratefully blinked his eyes at me. I turned the pot over so he could escape and misted him again. The next day my skink friend was gone. 

 

I spotted a fence lizard. I don't know why but he is less amicable and less appealing than the skink. He has horn-like protrusions like a western lizard, but smaller in size. He is more reticent and thus I have been unable to snap a photo. Fence lizards are more arboreal than the skink and they, like a squirrel, will run to the opposite side of a tree to escape detection.  

 

Walking to the lake I noticed a solitary Canada goose had joined our three domestic ducks. The goose did not stay for the duck feeding and for that I was sad. 

 

At twilight, a praying mantis blended into a geranium leaf while, off at a distance, a young doe stepped out from the tree line and bowed her head; it was a fitting end to a day of observing.

 

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

 

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