My yard is a freeway for animals. We have four acres, mostly wooded, and we leave the wild places alone. That’s where the wild things are. We host a flock of 10 wild turkeys, quite stately animals, and put lots of sunflower seed on the ground for them. We also host many squirrels. They eat a lot of sunflower seed as well.

If we are up very early in the morning, we sometimes see a deer quietly wander through the yard to the other side of the woods. That is always a moment when we hold our breath and just stare. They are so beautiful. Eat my hostas. I don’t care.

While I was doing fall clean-up this week, I looked at one particular tree, and remembered the gorgeous red-tail hawk who summered there for many years. He’s been gone for a while now, and I hope it’s because he found a nice lady hawk and settled down.

This year, our oaks have produced no acorns. This is a winter food for wildlife, and I am worried they will suffer. I am putting out hay bales (not straw) and lots of sunflower seed to help them through the hard times.

And there is always a little magic in the sky when the geese fly overhead. Mary Oliver wrote a poem called “The Wild Geese.” These words make my heart sing. These words have saved my life many times:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.



Hello Cat

Dear Cat Named Cat:

Last night was a big deal in your world, right? Did you sneak out to sit on the flying broom of some old dame with a pointy hat?  Did you get to warm yourself by the bubbling pot of toil and trouble? Did you have fun howling at the moon and hissing at little kids?

Halloween at my house is a non-event. We have lots of decorations, but the sad fact is that we get no trick-or-treaters. Part of that is because we live at the end of a gravel road, embedded in a forest. It’s a long walk down to our house for little kids.

However, the upside is that we are a sort of animal sanctuary. Right now there are 10 wild turkeys feasting on bugs in the backyard. We have seen coyotes (and lost cats to them), raccoons, the ubiquitous squirrels, gorgeous red foxes, and on very lucky early mornings, deer. In fact, we buy hay each winter and put it in the woods to feed the deer.

Since we have four dogs, 5 guinea pigs and a rabbit, we are cat-less at the moment. Our last cat was the sweet Prudence. She was happy to the end.

Someday the dogs will have passed on, our little backyard grave site will welcome them, I’ll plant flowers around them in the spring, and we will have cats again.

A late Happy Halloweenie to you, Cat. Hope it was fun!

ps – Your human is a writer and Cat is the best name he could come up with for you? Huh.