Philosophy With A Texas Twang

It’s the only way I can tawk.

Foxy Lady

I quietly observed her as she dined. With each delicate bite she took, she tilted her head back and closed her eyes in ecstasy as she chewed. I was close enough to the gray fox in my back field to see that it was a “lady” fox, but not close enough to see what meal caused her such delight.

It was such a treat to watch that fox (right here in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Denton) that I froze in my tracks, held my breath, and stood as still as I possibly could. Though every inch of me screamed to run for the camera and snap a picture … I knew that it would disturb her, and I would lose the chance to just enjoy the moment.

For fully fifteen minutes the lady fox ate her meal, oblivious to everything around her. She didn’t notice me; she ignored the sound of the traffic passing on the road not far away; the sudden blast of an ambulance’s siren didn’t disturb her; and the mockingbird that swooped at her head caused her no concern. She took the time to enjoy every single bite she took. Would that we all could enjoy the moment as that gray fox did … and as I did.

When her meal was finished, she spent the time to clean her face with her paws and groom her tail. Then she slowly trotted away into the underbrush.

I realized that my feet had fallen asleep and that a smile was frozen on my face. What a moment to treasure! It felt like I had been given a gift. My few moments watching the fox seemed almost holy.

Although I’d love to have preserved the moment with a picture, and wish I could show that fox to you, I’m so glad that I didn’t! Too often on special occasions we watch the action from behind a camera … preserving moments instead of enjoying living them. I need to remember the lesson I just learned with this experience. I think my camera just got a lot less important to me! I realized that in my mind’s eye I will always see her beauty more distinctly than I would in any photograph I might have taken.

My thoughts wandered to what that foxy lady might have been eating. Was it a field mouse or a bird? Maybe it was a squirrel? “Oh no!” I thought. “What if it was one of my bunny rabbit friends?”

As much as I dreaded knowing, I was drawn like a moth to a flame. I had to know what the fox found so delicious. Tentatively, I walked across the yard to the spot where she had dined, fearing what I might find.

On the ground, picked totally clean, was a corn cob. What a relief! I got to watch a wild creature have a meal … and that wild creature was a vegetarian! I love it when there is no blood or guts.

Less Like The Hummingbirds

He was close enough that I could almost reach out and touch him! That hummingbird hovered near me, his wings a blur, as I sat on my porch pondering the day ahead. He chirped at me! I know that you probably think that hummingbirds hum, but they don’t … they chirp (if you don’t believe me, you can visit All-Birds.com and hear their sound).

I see those hummers every day, because I created a lovely world for them. I planted dozens of flowering plants in the yard to attract them and feed them. I also spend time and money making “nectar” for the bird feeders (that hummingbird food isn’t cheap!). They know who I am: they know that I am the Almighty Power who gives them what they need to be happy and thrive.

But, I’ve noticed something. I see them at the edge of the deck most days, cheerfully going about the business of drinking from their feeders, but they rarely take any notice of me. They never flit by me just to visit or to say “thank you.” The only time they come near and hover, like my little friend this morning, is when the feeder is dry, or when bullying birds come around, or if there is a plague of ants attacking the feeder and choking up the feeding tube.

When that happens, when they have problems, you bet they come around. They find me wherever I am in the yard and buzz all around me. They hover like little helicopters as I sit on the porch looking at me with an expression I can’t define. Are they begging and praying that I will give them sustenance? Or is that an accusing stare, because they think I am not doing enough? I have no clue, because I don’t speak hummingbird (and they don’t speak Texan).

Usually when they hover, I go ahead and feed them, but this morning I was tired. I was pondering the mysteries of life and the tasks ahead of me for the day. I didn’t WANT to get up and fill the feeders. So, I just looked at that hummingbird and said, “You ungrateful little stinker. Little buddy, I created a beautiful world out there for you … and today you should go out and take care of yourself. If you won’t take care of yourself, why should I?”

As I said that, I wondered if any other Almighty Power (who shall remain nameless) ever feels the same way I did this morning? Perhaps I should try to be a little bit less like those hummingbirds? It might be a good day to practice gratitude.

Are You Like The Critter In My Attic?

There is a critter trapped in our attic! Believe me, I’m as distressed about this as the varmint seems to be. I hear how frantic it is up there and my tender heart feels the panic. More than that, however, I’m distraught about the smell that will invade my house when said critter curls up and dies! Lordy, it’s gonna be a BIG stink.

It might be a very long summer.

We recently had some siding replaced and roofing done. The point of entry was near a vent where something had gnawed its way inside. Unfortunately, that “something” didn’t get the memo to evacuate. When the hammers started pounding, it didn’t leap and run for the woods … it hunkered down to hide. That might work when hiding from a predator in the woods, but in this case it could have been a death sentence for the creature.

It’s not a rat or a squirrel. From the sounds that emanate from the attic, I deduce that it’s much bigger than that … and it slinks, it doesn’t scurry. If it were one of the feral cats that hang around, it would have become vocal by now, so I’m guessing it is an opossum or a raccoon.

Whatever it is, it isn’t happy.

We have tried to capture it using a live trap. We baited it first with bread, but it didn’t like seven grain bread any better than we do. It ignored the bait. We tried peanut butter, because who can resist a spoonful of extra crunchy Skippy? The critter could. We’ve tried water (because it has to be thirsty up there) and cat food, but it’s not buying any of it.

I guess I’m going to have to sacrifice a few strips of Applewood smoked bacon to bait the trap. If it can resist that then it’s already dead! Ironically, that animal doesn’t see that the trap is actually its opportunity for freedom.

In a desperate measure, we opened the attic door into the garage hoping that this animal would crawl down the steps so we could open the garage door and release him. I’m not too thrilled about encountering whatever it is when I walk into the garage on a dark morning, but I don’t think that will be a problem. It can’t seem to find the open door! Why can’t he open his eyes and see? Or, perhaps he has looked into our garage and the sight has frightened him. I don’t blame him for that (our garage is pretty scary), but it is a path to greater freedom.

Still, he won’t take the opportunity. He scratches at the walls on one side of the attic door and then on the other but won’t come down the steps.

There isn’t much more I can do for this critter except wait in dread for his demise and The Big Stink that will follow. I’m telling you this story because I realized it’s a metaphor for the way we humans sometimes live our lives.

So often, we get caught in a trap of our own making. When a commotion happens, we don’t take action … we hunker down. Then we get so intent on clawing our way to freedom that we don’t look around to see the open door! Or, if we look through the door, what we see frightens us too much. We won’t walk through the door to opportunity. We continue to do what we have always done. We claw and butt our heads against the wall … until the day we curl up and die.

Are you like that critter in my attic? What opportunities would you see if you could quit clawing long enough to look?