I grow vegetables. Vegetables attract bugs. Bugs attract frogs. Frogs eat bugs. I like bug-less vegetables so I like these frogs. So I don’t mind when I wear my shortyshorts to the garden and they jump splat on to my bare legs. Nope. Love them.
And because we live right by a stock dam we have the slimy creatures hanging out all over our lawn. Dozens of them jump up and make their presence known when I wander out there. I don’t mind protecting them from my stupid dogs. We help each other out.
Or at least I try…
But I still can’t get over that unfortunate incident with the lawn mower last summer. It haunts me. I was so careful. I was giving them time.
But that particular frog needed more.
And that’s nature.
The law of the land.
And that’s what this week’s column is about…
At the ranch, circle of life can be tough to witness
by Jessie Veeder
When I was a little girl my big sister and her friend rescued a baby robin from a knocked-down nest. I was so young at the time that the memory doesn’t have any details, except for the way that creature’s eyes looked before they were open, all blue and puffy, and how naked and impossibly fragile it was.
Tonight I’m out on my deck listening to the coyotes howl and watching a couple does come down the hill to take a drink in the dam. They’ve been creeping slowly toward their spot, shaken but not deterred by what sounds like a muskrat slapping and splashing in their water hole, and I’m wishing he would cool it. I mean, all those girls want is a little drink.
The way we do this circle of life thing seems so painstaking sometimes.
A few weeks ago all of the ranch dogs turned up with porcupine quills in their noses (well, all but our big old Lab who learned his lesson years ago when he came home full of sorrow and one tiny quill barely dangling from his nostril).
So my husband and dad had the task of pulling a few quills from snouts after work that day. It wasn’t the first time.
And if those dogs don’t learn their lesson, it won’t be the last.
These are the things that happen out here. Sometimes between the beautiful sunrise and sunset we’re reminded that nature is not the Disney movie we’d like to imagine it to be.
For example, earlier this summer, Dad was driving his side-by-side down the road with his brother and his two dogs. They were taking it slow, noticing the scenery and catching up when he noticed a baby killdeer running and flitting beside them. So he slowed down and remarked on the tiny bird, pointed it out to his brother, marveled at the little creature. And just as he finished saying some tender thing about being a witness to new life, his pup jumped out and snatched it up, bit it right out of the air like a scene out of an old Loony Tunes cartoon, feathers flying, tiny bird leg dangling out the dog’s mouth.
And that was that.
I have dozens of similar stories that I could pull out of the archives to help illustrate my point, like the time Mom’s cat drug a not-quite-dead-chipmunk into the house, or the one where my husband smashed a mouse with his boot in the middle of our living room in the middle of Easter dessert while his big sister stood shrieking on our couch.
And I have one about bats that I don’t want to get into right now, but why I’m bringing this all up in the first place is because just the other day, in the middle of a visit about the baby, my grandparents and my nephew going to kindergarten, Mom pulled out the latest.
“Oh, did I tell you about the bird in the sink?”
No. No, she hadn’t.
“Oh, I was standing at the sink and a bird flew up out of it.”
“Wait. A bird flew out of your sink!?”
“Yeah. Yeah. Well anyway, it flew up at me and then started banging against the window and so I screamed.”
“Yeah, I bet you screamed.”
“And Dad came huffing in, wondering what was going on, you know …”
“Because you’re easily startled.”
“Yeah. And so he was able to grab the bird against the window and bring it out to the door to set it free.”
“Oh, that’s good.”
“But, well, then I heard him holler, ‘Don’t look, don’t look!”
“Oh, no …”
“Cause the cat was out on the deck …”
“And as soon as that bird left his hands, well, she got up off her chair and snatched it up, and that was that.”
If this were a Disney movie, I think that would have turned out differently.
Yes, the law of the land is hard to buck sometimes.