Faerie garden felled by unknown intruder
By Ken DeLaat
One of the more pleasant aspects of life at N3 World Headquarters and Monarch Ministry is the variety of avian creatures who reside in and around the grounds. There’s a heron who arrives most mornings to strike a regal pose before heading off to nab a little breakfast, the wren who lives in Lil’s peace pole, a few territorial hummingbirds, hard working woodpeckers, a remarkably adept kingfisher and a catbird who always seems a bit confused.
House finches pay the occasional visit, swallows swoop along the lake reducing this year’s bumper crop of mosquitos by the mouthful and eagles soar ominously waiting for their prey with seemingly no preference as to fish or fowl.
And then there are the orioles.
We've enjoyed the company of these pleasant neighbors for many years now and await their annual arrival with anticipation and a supply of grape jelly. Their feeders are on the back deck near where we often dine al fresco and my much favored place to work on stories for the N3 site.
In the past we observed a mother teaching her young triplets the ins and outs of bird baths, a fascinating exercise in parental instruction. Most times we pause any conversation we might be having when one takes their place at the feeder. The colors are striking and their song is delightful. They also clatter at us if we are moving too close to their dinner table or are remiss in the timely refilling of the jelly holders.
For years the bowls of grape goo have gone relatively unmolested save the wasps who seem to get roaring drunk on the stuff, often ending life mired in their over indulgence.
Then two nights ago not only had the jars been obviously manhandled but the faerie garden, Lil’s creative little island of floral fantasy had been beaten into submission with the tops of the flowers missing (and presumably eaten) and a general disheveling of the citizenry who occupy the magic little place.
After a short mourning period Lil expressed hope for the survival of the trampled and bitten down plant life and moved the abused atoll to a new location. The next morning after her daily exercise regimen (I was busy at the time humanizing myself via heavy caffeine consumption) she called me down to the deck.
The shepherd's hook that had held the feeders was not just knocked about…
It was bent. The steel bar looked like a prop in a strong man contest.
Now given the fact that I am not exactly Mark Trail (old age reference to a one time regular in the Sunday Comics page) my knowledge of the abilities possessed by the nocturnal beasts who occupy the vicinity of N3WH&MM is far less than extensive.
At other times of day there are rabbits who wage an ongoing battle with Ms. Lil for garden supremacy, deer who wander in during early dawn hours for a taste of tulips in the spring and the obligatory squirrel gangs who are capable of unbelievable acrobatic achievements in their quest for sunflower seeds.
But then comes nightfall and the prowling about of raccoons, possums, porcupines and other nighttime nibblers.
But are any capable of not only flinging the jelly jars around after presumably licking them clean but bending a steel rod into an L shape?
Or was it something a bit larger?
The oddest thing was the lack of paw prints of any kind. In order to get to the feeder it would require anything of size to lumber through a sea of greenery and floral colors that surround it and encompass much of the yard. Did it perhaps take the steps down around the house, cross over the deck and shinny up the pole until it bent over to gain easier access? Possible I guess but while not knowing the intricacies of animal behavior, I am fairly certain a polite and lengthy stroll down the steps would be less likely than an ‘as the crow flies’ slog through any plant based obstacles when it comes to seeking food.
A while back in these pages I lamented having never seen an owl in the wild. The same goes for bears. While others have had their mini adventures with bears I’ve yet to encounter one not ensconced behind bars. Others have spotted them nearby and I know the county has a caniform clan milling about the countryside.
So it seems time for a trail cam. A chance to spot what it might be nothing more than a careful coon a polite possum or even a wily woodchuck.
But if it’s a bear it presents an opportunity to possibly finally spot one not just in the wild, but right here on my own back porch.
An opportunity that I will be certain to miss.
Because while my enthusiasm for encountering an owl has not wavered…
I can easily live with not being up close and personal with a bear.
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