September 4th, 2014

I have a generally sunny view of life.  Today gives me pause.

This morning I was sitting outside on our back porch drinking my coffee.  It was a lovely, sunny morning, a few fair-weather clouds in the sky, the birds chirping happily in the background, some of them quarelleling at the birdfeeder; a perfectly normal summer morning.

Suddenly, there was a “screek, screek, screek” call in the air, and all the birds seemed to hide in the bushes, huddling down under the nearest overhanging branch.  I looked up into the sky, and there was a hawk, circling, circling above.

That afternoon, I was watching the hummingbirds.  We think of hummers as gentle creature, but they are viscious with each other; each bird has to have complete control of the feeder; although several could feed at a time, only one must have control, and will abandon any ability to feed itself, in order to chase the others away.

A while later, the mallard duck appeared.  It is a female mallard.  A few years ago, a mating couple appeared, to pluck the new sprouts from the earth beneath our feeder.  Then they had four little chicks, cute little yellow fluff balls.  After a week, there were only two little fluff balls.  Then there were no more fluff balls  .

Always, the drake, the male, had come with the hen, the female.  And as she ate, he stood guard, watching for danger.  Ireally anthropomorphic.

Then last year, the drake didn’t appear.  Now it’s just the female.  So, I wonder what happened to the female.  I wonder what happened to the chicks.

In a large planting pot near our porch, a Carolina Wren had built a nest…both the male and female had made trip after trip, dragging twigs and grass to create a veritable cave.  Then t..he wren laid an egg.  The egg lies there still, but the wren disappeared long ago, probably scared off by the sounds of our human activity.

This evening, I was agakn sitting on my porch (I do a lot of sitting, where I do my writing), and the flock of mourning doves, who like to forage beneath and in my feeders, suddenly took off in a loud flapping of wings, and the next moment, WHAM a brown shape shot down from the sky, grabbed something in the corner of the yard, and in an instant flew off.

This is a really quiet corner of South Carolina.  And violent.



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