Posts Tagged ‘dog’

Critters

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Ganesh's Bowl

Ganesh’s Bowl photo by Todd

Two years ago our big gray cat Django got hit by a car and died, and we were sad for a time and thought about getting a couple of kittens, but we didn’t. Then some months after Django died, I was having a cup of tea in the dining room and looked out the window and saw a gang of chickadees foraging in the ferns and flowers just fifteen feet away from me, and I realized that when Django was alive, those birds would never have foraged there.

Fast forward to a few mornings ago: I was sitting on the deck watching a mob of chickadees and finches and tits rampaging in the nearby shrubbery, when along came an alligator lizard, a beautiful being Django would have toyed with and killed. But instead of dying a terrible death, the lizard paused to look at me and show me his shiny new skin before he moved off into the ferns to hunt for insects.

The next day I saw a gorgeous garter snake slither through the vegetable patch, and I knew Django would have killed him, too.

Then yesterday I stepped out of my office to play guitar in the morning sun and our resident chipmunk scampered along the deck to have a drink of water from the white bowl in front of the statue of Ganesh, a bowl we keep filled with water for the many birds and critters who share this land with us. Having slaked his thirst, the chipmunk found a lovely old weed going to seed, and while I strummed and sang, the chipmunk dined—a most enjoyable tête-à-tête that never would have happened were Django still with us.

If we had a cat or a dog, the mother skunk and her adorable baby would not come to drink from Ganesh’s bowl as they do at dusk every day, and a dog would keep the deer away, too, the deer we love to watch from our office windows—fawns appearing with their mothers throughout the summer.

And though I’d like to have a cat and a dog, for now I will forego that pleasure because I so enjoy having all these wild critters close at hand.

I recently caught a glimpse of a fox trotting through the woods on his way to our orchard, and I was thrilled to see the splendid fellow. We named our place Fox Hollow after the mother fox and her kits who entertained us so grandly for the first two years we lived here.

We might have called our place Ravenswood for the many ravens who live hereabouts. I recently had a long conversation with a raven. He cawed three times; I cawed three times. He cawed twice; I cawed twice. He cawed four times; I cawed four times. Then there was a pause, so I cawed twice, and he cawed twice. Then I cawed four times, and he cawed four times. Then I cawed but once, and he cawed but once. I fell silent and he cawed three times, so I cawed three times. This might have gone on indefinitely, but I was getting hoarse, so I quit. I’m not sure what we were talking about, but we certainly agreed on how many times to caw, which I consider a great achievement in inter-species communication.

We are also situated directly below the flight path of a robust population of wild pigeons and a pair of regal Red-tailed hawks. And we have vultures and possums and a big silver gray squirrel and gophers and…

In Django’s absence our neighbor’s big tabby has commandeered the orchard at the far southwest corner of our property, the gophers of special interest to her. I dissuade her from coming any nearer to our house because I don’t want her assuming Django’s role visa-à-vis the chipmunk and lizards and snakes and birds and the big silver gray squirrel. However, a dent in the orchard gopher population would not be a bad thing.

Speaking of critters, here at the start of July, the local population of mosquitoes is exploding, so much so that working outside of late has been a continuous swat fest, but that should change as summer progresses and the ground becomes perilously dry. Meanwhile, the swallows and bats are thrilled with the abundance of the little biting buggers.

female trio

And then there are human critters, a fascinating species, especially the colorful and emotive females. The music festival is underway, so Abi and Marion, both British female human musicians, have joined Marcia, the resident American female human musician, in our little neck of the woods, and the three of them are great fun to observe and interact with.

Human females, for my taste, are much more interesting than human males, at least the human males abounding in America; but then I’ve always been keen on humans who share their feelings and laugh easily and like to talk about food and dreams and what they just realized about themselves and life and so forth. Then, too, I spent the first several years of my life enthralled with my two older sisters until they grew weary of me and became less enthralling. But by then my admiration for more than the physical potentialities of female humans was well established and continues to this day.

Maybe human males in other cultures are not as stiff and stoic and emotionally guarded and narrow-minded as most American male humans are. I don’t know. What I do know is that emotional openness and generosity and curiosity about other people has everything to do with nurture and not much to do with nature. I say this because I am fortunate to know a handful of American male humans who enjoy sharing their feelings and laugh easily and like to talk about food and dreams and what they just realized about themselves and life and so forth.

Unfortunately, most of these unusual male humans don’t live around here; but at least we know each other, so we do not feel as bereft as we might otherwise.

Ah, I see our chipmunk is ensconced in the big flowerpot on the deck and has some sort of snack in hand. Maybe he’d like to hear a song while he eats.

Interdependence Day

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Todd Hudie Piano

(This article appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser July 2013)

A very large though not especially tall man is blocking the open doorway of Mendocino’s recently enlarged GoodLife Café and Bakery. This very large man is in his late thirties, I would guess, with short brown hair and wearing a white T-shirt, blue shorts, white socks and red tennis shoes. He is standing with his back to the outside as he shouts at his wife and two daughters inside the café. His wife is at the counter yammering at the patient woman behind the cash register, while his two young daughters rush around shouting that they are starving and don’t want to wait to start eating.

“Don’t eat those cookies yet,” shouts the very large man, as if he and his wife and daughters are alone in the wilderness and separated one from the other by great distances. “Wait until after lunch. Not a medium, Connie! I said I wanted a large. And I want my salad dressing on the side. Did you tell her I want it on the side? I said don’t eat those cookies yet.”

A line of hungry people wishing to enter the café has formed behind me, and a man in the line, also very large though not particularly tall, wearing a red, white and blue baseball hat, says to me, “Hey numb nuts. Yeah, you. Get a move on.”

“I would if I could,” I reply, refraining from calling him poo poo head or tiny balls or some other mean name, “but there’s someone blocking the doorway.”

I had already made two appeals to the very large man in the doorway that he please move out of the way, but he had studiously ignored me and begun to diddle his cell phone while continuing to yell at his wife and daughters.

“Pardon me,” I say loudly to him for the third time, “but I and several people behind me would like to enter the café. Would you mind stepping out of the doorway so we can get in?”

With great reluctance, the very large man turns to me. “We’re getting our food,” he sneers. “Do you mind?”

“What we mind,” says the not very large woman in line directly behind me, “is that you’re blocking the fucking doorway so we can’t get inside to get in the actual line to order our food and meet our friends.”

“What a bunch of assholes,” says the very large man in the doorway, moving a few inches to one side so we can just barely squeeze by him into the largely unoccupied café.

And as we squeeze by him, he continues to shout at his wife and daughters, and his wife continues yammering at the patient woman behind the cash register, and his daughters continue to screech, “We’re starving!” though their largeness belies their claims.

Finally having gained entrance to the spacious eatery, I find myself in line behind a woman studying the screen of her cell phone and speaking to the man beside her. “There’s a showing in Fort Bragg at one,” she says, “but it’s not in 3-D. The next 3-D showing isn’t until two-thirty.”

“Two-thirty?” says the man, grimacing as if someone has just slugged him in the stomach. “That’s like three hours from now. God, I hate small towns.”

Now someone shoves me in the back. “Sorry,” says a very large though not particularly tall woman. “I’m trying to read the salad list and you’re kind of blocking my view.”

“That’s because I’m kind of in line,” I explain, losing my cool, “and since I don’t want to trample the people in front of me, I thought I’d wait here.”

“Hey,” says the woman’s enormous though not very tall husband. “She apologized. You don’t have to be rude.”

Two gluten-free chocolate chip cookies purchased, I head for the exit and find the doorway blocked by a huge man and a large woman trying to decide if they want to come in or not.

“Excuse me, may I get by?” I ask, expecting one or the other of them to move aside, but neither of them moves because apparently neither of them heard me.

“Smells good,” says the woman, diddling her cell phone and staring at the little screen. “Let’s see if Yelp says this place is any good.”

“This is a very good place,” I say to them. “May I get by you, please?”

The man glares at me, but reluctantly moves aside. “Pushy pushy,” he mutters as I squeeze by him.

Welcome to Mendocino on July third, the start of the Fourth of July weekend, the town bursting at the seams with visitors who have come here to escape the inland heat and the hustle and bustle of their urbanized digitized lives, except they’ve brought their digital devices with them and their astonishing (to me) lack of civility and respect for anyone or anything other than their own individual persons.

Fortunately, right before I came into the village to get my mail and purchase the aforementioned chocolate chip cookies, I spent a wonderful hour on Big River Beach and had two remarkable (to me) encounters there that rendered my annoying experiences with those out-of-town visitors wholly unremarkable.

The first encounter was with a hummingbird that came to me as I was standing in the little waves on the edge of the ocean. Imagine my surprise to see a tiny iridescent rosy golden hummingbird hovering just a few feet from me, and my further amazement when she waited for our eyes to meet before she zoomed away. Wow I thought that was amazing, a hummingbird hovering right next to me on the edge of the ocean. And then the dazzling little bird returned, our eyes met again, and she zoomed away; and it dawned on me that maybe she wanted me to follow her.

So the next time she appeared beside me, I did follow her, crossing the wide expanse of sand to the cliffs that rise up to the headlands. There, in a grotto with walls adorned with wildflowers and flowering succulents, the hummingbird moved from flower to flower imbibing the precious nectar. Every few minutes, she would take a break from her feeding and come hover near me, looking at me for a moment before returning to the flowers. And after I had watched her for a good long time, she flew away out of sight.

The second encounter occurred twenty minutes later as I was making my way across the beach to climb the stairs to the village. I was heading for a log where I intended to sit and put my shoes on, when I heard a man and a woman calling, “Tina, no! Tina! Come here!”

I turned in the direction of their voices just as a beautiful brown dog came running up to me, a happy smiling dog who was the spitting image of my dog Cozy, my boon companion from my sixth birthday when I got her as a pup until the week before I left for college when she was hit by a car and died at the age of twelve.

Tina shoved her head up under my hand to let me know she wanted me to pet her, and I happily obliged. “Well aren’t you lovely?” I said as I petted her head and scratched behind her ears. “How nice of you to come see me. You are so sweet.” She held very still as I petted her, leaning against my legs just as Cozy used to lean against me, and then I cried for the first time in a long time, crying in memory of my childhood friend, in memory of my childhood, in memory of loved ones now gone, and for joy and sorrow at the beauty and poignancy of being alive in the world.