Like you, due to this virus, life exists mostly within the confines of the house and yard. As far as non-human forms, books have always been my friends, but now I’ve taken to developing a deeper friendship with my plants. You remember my first attempt at caring for plant life in Cambria?…the outdoor succulents I named Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato? Well, only Tomato survived the move to Morro Bay (Lettuce and Tomato were given a proper burial in real dirt as opposed to Quikrete).
Currently, I’m fostering (nothing’s permanent) indoor plants: Trixie (ficus), Albert and Dali (snake). Every morning, I bid them hello, pet them, and well, treat them like buddies. They seem to like it here and we’re all doing swell.
Outside is a different story.
On the property of our lovely New Orleans home, there were many playful squirrels out back. As a toy for them, Tom configured a contraption. He halved a coke can, tied a string to it, and let it hang about three feet from the branch of a tree. In the cup, he’d place a nut with shell…walnuts were good. At first the squirrels couldn’t get at it; they’d somersault a fall in their attempts. It didn’t take them long however, maybe a week, to figure it out. The smart, furry rodents would perch on the branch, pull up the stringed cup, grab the nut, and let go the can, leaving it to swing in the air. That’s entertainment!
Three months living in Morro Bay and I’ve not seen any squirrels. But when the orders came through for social distancing, I unpacked the beloved can and hung it from the backyard tree. Surely, I’d observe an abundance of backyard wildlife.
In the late afternoons, I sit out back to read and to absorb Vitamin D. There is a neighborhood black and white cat that traverses the property. I’ve never had a pet, always traveling; this may be the time. I try to make friends with the animal, calling out an ingenious name, “Hey Cat.” But my yard is full of singing birds and too often I see cat in a still, crouched position, ready to strike. I don’t encourage cat anymore. But last week, book in hand, out of my peripheral vision, I see cat sauntering fairly close to my lounge chair. Unlike him to get that close. It’s coming from the direction of the hanging can. Then I realize. It’s not the cat. It’s black and white, but it’s not a cat. It’s a skunk. Middle of the day. No way! I don’t move but we lock eyes. Skunk has a friendly countenance, like Pepe Le Pew! He walks on by. Did skunk figure out the can trick without me knowing it? The nut is gone.
The next morning, I place one nut in the can and three in a trail leading to my chair. No skunk did I spy, but the nut in the can is gone. Next day, I leave the can empty but keep the nut trail. I’m reading. Here comes skunk. No fear. So I don’t show any either. Skunk eats one nut. Comes closer for the second. I’m cooing a soft, friendly welcome. But the last nut is too close for comfort and skunk waddles away. By the end of the week, skunk is comfortable in approaching the third nut closest to me!
Not yet but soon, I believe skunk will let me touch. Finally, I have a pet! I think I’ll call skunk, Lil’ Stinker. Just like I’m being…you know the date today.
“This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
This ain’t no foolin’ around.”
– Talking Heads, “Life During Wartime”
Stay well, friends.