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Possumhaw: Scenes from the porch


Shannon Bardwell



Nature is remarkably active in the mornings. Taking some time for quiet meditation, I noticed nature has not done the same. The birds were singing and the leaves were rustling; a breeze made the morning deliciously soft. The birds gathered at the feeders just feet from the pond. 


The porch sits high, providing more of a bird's eye view than the birds have. The prothonotary warbler visits. Sam said he called the birds "wild canaries," when he spotted the bright yellow birds on the creek. He asked me again how to pronounce "prothonotary." 


The cardinals are regulars, as are the chickadees, the titmouse, and I'm going to say it, cowbirds. Many birders intensely dislike the cowbird, so I'm not going to say much about them, only that they, too, feed. 


My favorite bird is the indigo bunting. Its teal color is as bright as a peacock's feather. Birder friend Ruth White says that birders covet the sighting of an indigo bunting, and we are pleased to feed three or four at any given time. 


Five hummingbird feeders await their guests. We've seen a hummer or two, but not many. There are so many blooming flowers I doubt that sugar water is more appealing. 


Beyond the feeders a turtle floated, then kicked his legs, propelling him forward through the moss. It's a lazy life for a turtle. I can't think of any predators for turtles, maybe cars. The turtle stopped atop the moss and rested there. 


Further, a grass carp drifted. Every now and then Sam tries to snare a carp with a hook. There's no bait for the mighty fish. He's a grass-eater, and this one is about four-feet long. Sam thinks it would be quite the contest with a fish that size. There's a fierce competition between man and fish that I don't quite understand.  


The carp has a dorsal fin that he often flags above the waterline. It causes the carp to look quite shark-like. On occasion we've had children standing on the dock, especially little girls; when four or five carp gather up, the girls scream like banshees. The carp scare easily, and when they take off suddenly waves roll like tide hitting a shoreline. 


A trio of squirrels arrived. We didn't have squirrels while we had the outside cats. Then we lost Jane, so Jack came inside to live. Now the squirrels run rampant. I've managed to keep them from climbing the birdfeeders; instead they shake the seed to the ground. I've thought of trapping the squirrels and entering them into the Bardwell relocation program, but they are entertaining little rodents. 


The backyard is a tangle of dandelions, grasses, clover, lettuces, herbs, mints and other wild things. I've asked Sam not to cut, to preserve habitat for the rabbits. Feeding the rabbits, I've realized how often without thought we decrease their habitat.  


A neighbor reports the sighting of a black panther, but I haven't seen him from the porch.


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


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