Monday, 20 May 2013

Animal Encounters

Encounters with animals

We live a goodly distance from everywhere so it should not be surprising that we have wild animals in our lives.

The morning that our friend Jan died, a crane flew up from the pond and sat on the top of the spruce tree outside our living room window. We were sitting at the table dining before driving to Jan's home. The three of us said, “Cranes never sit in our spruce trees.”

This crane was having such a difficult time balancing that it was clearly not its preferred perch either. We could not help linking the strange behaviour of the bird to the spirit that was leaving Jan. A messenger of the spirit.

That same summer and before Jan's memorial, I had a personal encounter that also seemed to be somehow connected - perhaps because so many things become highly significant in the “crack-in-everything” time.

It was my habit that summer to go for a 45 minute bike ride daily; sometimes my route took me along the North side of the tree line on the West quarter. I was pumping the pedals pretty good, the dog was running on my left side, when I became aware that a young doe had lined up with me on my right side.

We travelled together, me peddling, her lightly loping, the dog running, for about 120 meters - quite a distance - during which time the doe and I had the opportunity to look into one another's eyes. I don't think that I saw fear in her eyes; it seemed to be more like surprise. In any case, I wanted to hold the sensation of that link - running and riding together - as long as I could. As much as one could do on the halfway mark of a 45 minute bike ride, I was holding my breath.

Suddenly - I don't know whether the dog noticed the deer or the deer saw the dog - the deer lept forward, bounded across the trail in front of me and into the trees, dog immediately behind her.  Our moment was over.

Out here in the Touchwood Hills, we've had our share of wild animal babies - skunks and racoons have been memorable - and we've had some spectacular scenes - a flotilla of 12 pelicans lined up across the pond, a congregation of eagles parked in trees along Elving Lane, a herd of elk on Elving's old field. We've had birders leg-banding horned owls on our property.

In spite of our cats, birds build nests around the house so we get to have visits from song sparrows, hummingbirds, canaries, goldfinches and others. On occasion we've had bird-human encounters. One winter, some chickadees came out to the snow covered garden where I was pruning fruit trees to harass me until I came to the house and filled their feeders. They would sit on the branch that I was about to prune and when taking flight zip into my line of vision - not quite but almost into my face. I went to the house and put out food. They left me alone thereafter.

But yesterday took my breath away.

I was doing my physio/yoga on the brick patio in front of our house - just warm enough to have short sleeves. As I was standing, stretching my arms outwards from my sides, I heard a familiar sound at the window above me. The buzz-whirr of a hummingbird. As I stood there regretting the failure to anticipate their return by having feeders prepared and hanging, he flew down to my hand, buzzed around it and then, as I stilled myself, he parked himself on my left wrist. I could not bear to blink as he impudently flashed his iridescent red neckerchief at me. Then into the air and gone.

Wait. Not gone, I only thought he was gone. He hovered over the tip of my fore finger and, to my astonishment, stuck his tongue under the nail! The tiniest of a tickle. Then he went on to the other three fingers. Tickle, tickle, tickle - and this time, he was really gone.

His was the glory, the honour and the awe was mine.