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Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

As I mentioned, when my sister’s boyfriend Kevin pruned the holly, magnolia, and crepe myrtle in the backyard the other day, he found the nest of the mockingbird that attacked me and my cats all last summer.  Here it is:

 

Mockingbird nest

Mockingbird nest

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Have you seen this criminal?  Wanted for assault in the District of Columbia

Have you seen this criminal? Wanted for assault in the District of Columbia

The other day, when I was sitting at my desk working and my cats were out in the garden sunning themselves, I saw a bird swoop by right before the cats ran back into the house, terrified.  I laughed at their fear of birds—they didn’t grow up outdoor cats and it showed, or so I thought.

I’m not laughing anymore, because this week the same bird terrified me.

The day before the bad storms hit the East Coast, my mother and I were in the garden, pulling weeds and trimming branches.  My mother took the pruning shears to the holly tree, and soon there was a bird shrieking and screaming at her.  We figured she had gotten close to a nest, so she backed off.  The day after the storm, I went back outside to check to see if the nest had survived.  I was looking at the bundle of twigs on the holly branch when I felt a THUMP on the back of my head.  (more…)

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One thing I noticed shaping my perception of my trip to Kansas City was my recent reading of William Cronon’s “The Trouble With Wilderness.”  It’s a key essay in environmental history that apparently generated a lot of controversy when it came out.  It makes the argument that the idea of wilderness in American history has been harmful to the extent that we think of wilderness as pure, unspoiled, and something that we ruin by our presence.  It’s made us value nature only (or especially) when we perceive it as wild, untamed, or untouched.  In this view, though, as soon as we enter the picture, nature is irretrievably damaged.  (more…)

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My mother and I just got back from a trip to Kansas and Missouri, where my parents grew up.  We were visiting my 94-and-a-half year old grandmother and staying with my aunt and uncle—my mom’s little brother and his wife.  It was a great trip in terms of family—my grandmother was warm and loving, even though she’s in a nursing home with round-the-clock care, and the rest of my mother’s family was as hilarious as usual.  We had a nice lunch with my aunt Mary’s brother and his wife and told stories.  We saw an old friend of my mom’s from college and got to go to my second cousin’s first birthday and to meet another cousin’s new girlfriend.  All the human parts of it were pretty wonderful. (more…)

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My much-loved aunt, Mary Bennett Johnston, passed away just over a month ago.  Mary was an animal lover as far back as I can remember.  My favorite picture of her, from the 70s, shows her nuzzling her beautiful gray cat, Cleopatra.  Her unruffled manner with both animals and people was probably what endeared her to all of them.  I remember bringing one of her retrievers to her one day when I’d found a tick on its skin—I was hysterical, since my father had taught me that the natural world presented chiefly risk, whether of ticks, lyme disease, rabies, or some other life-threatening bacterium, virus, or parasite.  But Mary calmly and expertly plucked it off, with the dog—who was gazing adoringly into her face—seemingly none the wiser. (more…)

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