There’s a growing collection of animals at my front door, along with seashells and rocks, of course. Hedgehogs and bunnies along with frogs and turtles and owls welcome everyone to Casa de Enchanted Seashells.
These are brand new additions to the family…and best of all for my thrifty self, they were both on sale.
My kitchen window is an ever-changing movie screen.
Throughout the years, it’s been the best location to view all kinds of memorable events; observing the original Angel Boy in his sandbox, throwing balls for his Border Collie, skating with his friends on the half pipe while they ate the cookies and drank the smoothies I’d bring out to them, to the fresher 2.0 versions enjoying mango-black cherry ice cream cones and playing baseball in the garden or chasing butterflies, to birds and bunnies and coyotes and bobcats, (never forgetting the rats).
Today I saw a beautiful Red Shouldered Hawk perched on a low branch in the ash tree surveying the lawn for a late lunch.
Now I know where the feathery treasures come from. I’ve been finding them where I had first seen the rodents and I had a hunch they might be silent gifts–messages to communicate that my vermin problem is being taken care of, and I think I’m right!
Red Shouldered Hawks are about 17-24 inches tall and can live 15-20 years. So regal, so lovely, so important to the balance of nature. We need to protect them and their habitats, too.
I saw him fly away but wasn’t quick enough to focus the camera to capture the incredible wingspan.
When it cooled off slightly in late afternoon, I went out to the garden to water plants because it’s been SO HOT and everything is parched. We haven’t had rain in a long, long time.
I heard chirpy calls that sounded a bit distressful. How could I tell? I like to think that I can communicate with animals–whether or not that’s true, it does make me listen to them, and I feel that I can distinguish one sound from another, sort of like when you know why your baby is crying, whether it’s hungry or tired or frustrated…
At that precise moment that I heard those chirps, I was walking on my stone pathway and I looked down. There, camouflaged on a rock, I spied a tiny bird. If I hadn’t paid attention, I would have stepped on him/her!
I ran back on the deck to grab my phone, and he had hopped up on an exposed tree root.
I began to have a chat with this darling creature who appeared to be lost and a bit scared. I can understand why, because he’s definitely NOT supposed to be sitting on a gray rock exposed to all sorts of danger.
I brought over a small pan of fresh water and watched him hop around a little and flex his wings, so I surmised he had fallen out of a nest and wasn’t actually injured.
Again I became aware of lots of birds circling the area, yellow chirpy finches calling out to this little guy, so I knew it was a Lesser Goldfinch fledgling, a common bird in Southern California and one I often am lucky enough to see around here.
From the tree root he hopped onto a hanging succulent and finally made it all the way into a basin shaped planter on top of the tree stump. With his family encouraging him to join them and fly to safety, I thought it was best to give them all space and went in the house.
Later, just before dark, I checked and he was gone. As soon as I woke up this morning, I checked again and there’s no sign of him.
Fingers crossed, I’m hopeful that this was another happy ending at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.
I discovered a lovely poem by Mary Oliver:
In the fields we let them have- in the fields we don’t want yet-
where thistles rise out of the marshlands of spring, and spring open- each bud a settlement of riches-
a coin of reddish fire- the finches wait for midsummer, for the long days,
for the brass heat, for the seeds to begin to form in the hardening thistles, dazzling as the teeth of mice, but black,
filling the face of every flower. Then they drop from the sky. A buttery gold, they swing on the thistles, they gather
the silvery down, they carry it in their finchy beaks to the edges of the fields, to the trees,
as though their minds were on fire with the flower of one perfect idea- and there they build their nests and lay their pale-blue eggs,
every year, and every year the hatchlings wake in the swaying branches, in the silver baskets,
and love the world. Is it necessary to say any more? Have you heard them singing in the wind, above the final fields? Have you ever been so happy in your life?
I’ve never played a single musical instrument — well, I took a few guitar lessons many years ago but I can’t remember a thing plus I had no talent.
We have a piano because of Angel Boy. His grandma really wanted him to learn so he could play Ode to Joy and Fur Elise for her, which he did, and it made her very happy, especially during her final illness.
I looked up on this very sunny and hot blue sky day and the first thing that popped into my head was that I was looking a musical score of some sort.
I think I’m not the only one who has observed birds on wires and took similar photos, but this is my contribution. Whatever tune they’re playing is a special sort of magic. Counting Crows?
I crossed the street to see if there were herons or egrets in the ditch that feeds the lagoon, and this is what I saw.
They almost looked like lily or lotus pads, but it’s a cluster of green algae. I hope it’s not toxic, BUT it clearly demonstrates how things that look beautiful might be harmful, noxious, destructive, and dangerous.
Intently absorbed in my dishwashing chore, I heard a scuffling sort of sound from the backyard and looked out the kitchen window.
Perched on top of the canvas awning shading a garden bench was a giant hawk. I followed his eyes and saw a dove rush for safety under a lavender bush.
I watched him fly a few feet away to the fence and grabbed my camera. It’s not as sharp a photo as I wished, but it’s better than nothing!
I hoped the dove had escaped even though I know doves are a favorite meal of birds of prey. Honestly, with all the rats and mice and bunnies running rampant in my garden, I think those creatures are much better options than a poor little bird.
I heard a familiar “coocoocoo” — take a look at what I found on my deck, none other than the dove. She wasn’t alone; there was a baby dove, too! They weren’t at all scared of me as I crept closer and closer to see if anyone was injured by the hawk.
I’ve never before seen them on the deck. As usual, I didn’t want to interfere unless it was necessary. They sat close together for a couple of hours, then mom flew up to the roof.
She spent a long time calling to the baby to encourage him to fly to her, to no avail. Just as I was prepping a box with a soft towel to scoop up the baby for a visit to Project Wildlife, the mom came back.
This time, they flew away together.
It was a happy ending for the doves and I was once again impressed but not surprised by the obvious caring and affectionate behavior of animals to their children that often far surpasses human maternal actions.
Mom’s devotion to her child was inspiring. Who can claim animals aren’t sentient beings?
Animal moms are some of the best moms on this planet.
Three dolphins jumped out of the water directly in front of me.
I was rummaging in the bag for snacks for a very hungry Angel Boy, when he shouted, “Grandma, a shark, look near the jetty!”
Immediately, my eyes laser focused toward the spot where he was pointing, and I could see that it wasn’t a shark but a trio of shiny dolphins!
Dolphins make me happy. Seeing a dolphin with my favorite boy makes me even happier.
I tried to snap a pic but wasn’t quick enough. They were headed north, sharply silhouetted by the rays of the summer sun setting low toward the horizon,
Instead, I was able to capture the multiple joys of my two favorite Angel Boys.
History repeats itself as the sun goes down and I’m calling both of them to COME OUT OF THE WATER, IT’S TIME TO GO HOME!
“Five more minutes, Grandma. Daddy says to tell you five more minutes.”
I experienced a major deja vu moment of standing in that same spot many times over the years as I shouted at the top of my lungs for the original AB to come out of the water because it was completely DARK.
Half an hour later, tired and sandy, we head home to a shower, more food, and an exhausted but happy boy falls immediately asleep.