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Fear and Loathing in the Backyard

Published by GrahamLewis in the blog Reflections on My Golden River. Views: 54

A little bit of literary drivel with none of the angst or deep thoughts that most bloggers here present. Just a bit of animal tomfoolery.

I bought a cheap bag of wild-bird seed, called "Country Bird Mix," but it turned out to be primarily cracked corn and millet, with only a few of the real seeds mixed in. Not what I wanted for the bird feeder, but I quickly realized it would be perfect for the "outsiders" -- the chipmunks and squirrels and sparrows. So I poured a rather large pile onto the back patio.

My daughter showed up, and, with me, watched what she later termed the chaos.

One chipmunk emerged after a few minutes and made a bee-line for the pile. He all but rolled in it, the way Scrooge McDuck used to roll in his money in the Donald Duck cartoons. He spread himself over it, and began stuffing it into his cheeks. Soon another chipmunk came, and the two had a sort of posturing contest, each trying to intimidate the other. But soon both turned to the corn.

A few minutes later a third chipmunk emerged, not as laid back as the other two, and he charged with apparent serious intent. The first chipmunk took off with the newcomer fast pursuit, reminding me of the old Chip and Dale cartoons featuring a pair of chipmunks - the squealing and squeaking was reminiscent of "Alving and the Chipmunks"-- and vanished into the flower bed. The attacker came back to the pile, and the second chipmunk backed off for a bit, then edged his way back in. A few minutes later our resident cottontail rabbit appeared, and both chipmunks moved off a bit. The chipmunk who had been chased into the flower bed ventured back, only to be chased off again; apparently he is at the bottom of the totem pole.

Meanwhile the braver of the chipmunks made a fast dash to the pile behind the rabbit's back; the rabbit, catching a glimpse of something moving fast just out of his peripheral vision, jumped straight up into the air and spun around. Realizing it was one of the chipmunks, he settled back into place. Soon, though, all three chipmunks were at the edge of the pile furthest from rabbit. Until one of the squirrels ventured onto the scene, and chased the rabbit off. The squirrel left a few minutes later, and all three chipmunks returned, soon joined by a fourth and fifth (who knew so many chipmunks in our backyard, unless word was spreading through a chipmunk grapevine.)

All was good, chipmunkwise, until a pair of mourning doves fluttered down. Doves may symbolize peace, but these were not peaceful doves. In manner I never would have thought them capable of, they spread their wings, lowered their heads, and charged. The chipmunks backed off. When the doves had eaten their fill, the took off again, and the chipmunks quietly resumed their feast.

Well, not really quietly. There was a lot of squabbling and chasing as they jockeyed for position, but always staying close. Until the rabbit returned and it all started up again.

So what's the point of this little tale? Not really much of one, more of a writing exercise and, more importantly, a reminder that Mother Nature doesn't really foster the idyllic life of fairy tales and cheap poetry. And all this among the herbivores; just think what chaos would have ensued had a dog or cat or fox wandered in, or a hawk had circled overhead.

But at least it's a good and entertaining way to unload a bunch of crappy bird seed. Crappy for my purposes, perhaps, but obviously beauty is in the mouths and pouches of these beholders.
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