• Nature offers another lesson

I awakened at first light this morning to what sounded like a steady rain hitting the gutters on my roof. It took a minute for the usual awakening fuzziness to clear before I realized it wasn’t raining. It was the sound of the remnants of last week’s ice storm melting away.

The disaster that hit the Northeast and left literally hundreds of thousands of homes without power claimed its victims in deaths, accidents, lost business and general discomfort. But, as usual, the wildlife that surrounds us up here on Weathering Heights persevered nicely.

As I drove around to check on the status of several people, I glanced toward one of the large ponds that helps nurture and shelter the huge flocks of Canada geese that both decorate and plague our region. There, placidly swimming in the frigid water, were dozens of the big birds, acting as if nothing untoward were going on weatherwise.


Speaking of the topic of birds, Andre, the larger of The Other Beings that co-inhabit our house up here overlooking the Hudson River, isn’t given to sudden movements unless there is food involved. This morning was a different matter entirely.

What had struck a chord at the very center of his feline being was the huge blue jay perched in the crabapple tree outside the kitchen window, the one where the ice had finally departed. The smaller finches, nuthatches, cardinals, woodpeckers, titmouses (titmice, titmeese? … I never can quite get it straight) and assorted wild birds that usually perch there awaiting their turn at the suet and mixed-seed cages had been temporarily spooked by big bird.

Whiskers standing straight out, tail twitching, that funny little mewling noise deep in the throat that beings of his persuasion often employ when contemplating winged potential food. Finally, I thought, he’s distracted from breakfast and ready to exercise his Creator’s design by making a mad dash at the window to scare off the cocky intruder.

Then, Lily, the smaller (but not by much) of The Other Beings, glided sleepily down the stairs from the loft where she’d spent the night on her comfy pillow bed, ready for breakfast and mewing at Andre to join her at the dish.

That broke the magical spell and we all lapsed into the morning routine. A forkful of tuna for each of them, a bowl of fresh water, and then a bowl of crunchy stuff to keep their tummies satisfied and their teeth sparking clean.

There still was hope for them to pay attention to the world around them. Morning sunshine actually was spilling over Bald Mountain just behind us. However, geese, wild turkeys, cackling crows and other bully birds we’re used to were nowhere in sight for a change. The rainbow of smaller creatures would soon be twittering and scampering about in full view before heading off on their migratory ways.

Things are getting back to normal, looking winter-sloppy and very wet, yet the mighty trees that had bowed down under the weight of the clinging ice have reasserted themselves once more and are standing tall.

The bird, the trees, the deer, the leaden skies … . No matter how many office towers we erect, traffic roundabouts we install, housing developments we sprout, the wildlife keeps reminding us we’re just a nod or two away from unspoiled nature.


About Bill Dowd

Webmaster/social media coordinator for the Southern Rensselaer County NY Rotary Club.

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