A little visitor

This week has been a week for visitors. B put a handful or three of birdseed on the deck rail and we’ve been beseiged by adorable little sparrows hopping all around in their excitement. We’ve also been visited by the larger and more stately mourning doves who gracefully settle on the rail and spend a minute or two smoothing ruffled feathers and preening before they begin to eat in an avian version of “wash your hands before dinner” that never fails to amuse us. For the first time in eight years, hummingbirds are making an appearance with their distinctive flickering flight and astonishing hovering ability. They like the roses, and the hosta blooms, and — to my great surprise — the green beans flowers. The birdfeeders bring us a daily selection of goldfinches, house finches (a new visitor this year), starlings, jays, cardinals, and others, and the bird book is never far from reach.

While picking carrots for dinner, we spied this little visitor, which led K and B to rush back indoors as fast as they could in search of an identification book:

Not all of our visitors are birds or bugs. The space between the large yellow irises and the Virginia creeper seems to be a favourite hiding spot for a pair of chipmunks with their striped backs and fuzzy little tails and sweet little faces. B likes the chipmunks. A lot.

I like the chipmunks too.

Except when they eat my tomatoes. I intend to put those tomatoes into a sauce pot, not watch them get stuffed into cute little cheeks. Of course, with all the rain this spring, and then when the rabbits ate the plants down to the stem in early June, the tomatoes got off to a rocky start and I suspect I’ll be lucky to get one large pot of sauce this year.

Oh yes, the rabbits. In May and June, the rabbits were ravenous and I had to resort to putting a net over much of the vegetable garden. As summer has come into its fullness, they’ve settled into other feeding spots and the garden seemed safe enough, so I removed the net. It was a pain to try to weed the garden through the net, since a net fine enough to defeat a rabbit is also fine enough to defeat my clumsy glove-clad fingers, so weeding necessitated disassembling the net, weeding, and then reassembling it.

I just don’t hate weeds enough to go through all that effort daily.

Yesterday, we had a new visitor to the garden. New in every sense of the word — a baby bunny. Cute and fuzzy and oh-so-cuddly looking, he skittered around the yard sampling this grass here and that dandelion there before settling into the big patch of clover that seems to be growing where the grass used to. He was truly a tiny little thing, barely more than a handful of rabbit and certainly not nearly enough to make a decent stew. (I keep threatening, but the rabbits seem to ignore the threat.)

“Look! A baby rabbit!” I told B as we sat at the dinner table enjoying a meal full of yummy things straight from the garden.

“He’s so cute!” came her delighted response. “I just want to run outside and scoop him up and hug him!”

The Man We Call Dad looked less than thrilled at this prospect. In fact, he looked less than thrilled at the idea of a rabbit devouring what little grass we have left, since between the heat and his travel and my lack of interest in tending something so boring as grass, our lawn is a little worse for wear.

“He’s eating the clover,” I pointed out, and The Man We Call Dad suddenly looked just slightly more content as we settled back to our meal.

Later that evening as I went outside for a brief bit of weeding, I discovered two more visitors had settled in for a visit: spiders. Orb spiders. Sitting contentedly on their webs, head down, legs splayed, waiting eagerly for the unwary to fly into their web.

Or for this Mama to stick her hand through by accident, not having seen them in the evening dusk.

Orb spiders have big, fat, squishy bodies. Orb spiders have legs that spread out in all directions. Orb spiders make really, really big webs. Orb spiders can grow to be really, really big themselves. The sort of big that makes you run screaming from the gazebo when you realize that the web that stretches across the entire southern end has a golf-ball sized spider in the middle of it.

As far as I’m concerned, if you’re willing to build a web that encompasses half the gazebo, I’m gonna let you keep it.

At least until The Man We Call Dad can come to the rescue. My hero.

Because I really, really don’t like spiders.

Thank goodness the birds do. Yummy, yummy spiders.

I think I need another bird feeder or two.



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