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Selected Podpieces


Male Northern Cardinal
I had been planning to write today about the bee hive in the oak tree on Portanimicut Road, but on the way to my study I stopped at the living room window. The view through the window was like a little animated village. I had just filled the tube feeder, and yesterday I trimmed some of the low branches on the river birches, and now a chipmunk was scouting around through the violet leaves for fallen seeds and suet scraps. A young or female cardinal was at the hopper feeder, glancing in both directions before seizing each seed; natty little red-breasted nuthatches zipped in to snatch a seed and darted off without stopping. There was nothing unusual in this; maybe it was slightly busier than it’s been lately, because the weather has turned a touch cooler.

What fascinated me was how much this fascinates me. I can stand looking out the window for long, long minutes, watching the quick movements of the animals and the birds. Examining the leaves and blossoms and stalks of the perennials, in and out of season, around the birdbath, thinking of the energy required to go out and trim them back to sightliness. Eyeballing the birches to imagine how it would look if I took off a few more branches; trying to picture the view when the variegated Solomon’s seal at their feet has filled in.

There’s nothing natural about such fascination. That is, it doesn’t take unpersonned nature to fascinate: sitting in a city’s parks and at restaurant tables and in airports can also fascinate for long moments and – especially in airports – long hours. But it gives me far less pleasure. The difference is that I don’t believe in people’s benignancy; I have a mistrust and even fear of people that I don’t have of non-human nature.
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