Prey For Me

Homing in on his presence as soon as I approached the driveway, my eyes remained focused on him. Perched on top of the arbor, he sat there like a sentry guarding my front door. I hit the button to access the garage, yet he remained, not the least bit wary of the noise the door made as it chugged open. Grabbing my teal Pierre Cardin duffel bag, I set it on the garage floor, went outside and prepared for a confrontation. The last time that my husband attempted to drive him off, he challenged with an attack posture, ready to stand his ground. However, my connection was familiar and he found no need to be aggressive with me.

“Beckwith” I began, “we’ve had this conversation before”. His flesh ripping talons wrapped firmly around the metal frame of the arbor as his sharp-sighted stare met and fixed on mine. We know each other well. He is one of my Nature Guides and our relationship is one of respect, however beyond the stance of the predator, is the underlying current of meeting an old and dear friend. Many times he has served to comfort me and give me that unwavering sense of knowing that his conspicuous presence always provides. My mind questions, and he is there with the answer. Some of those of like mind would call him an ‘omen’, but the love we have built over the years bonds us, and he is so much more.

This Witch knows well the ways of Nature. No ‘fluffy bunny’ notions of endless rainbows and joy filled frolicking through infinite meadows of wildflowers cloud my reality with their puffy white images of having everyone and everything ‘just get along’. My dear comrade was here to hunt.

The array of feeders in my yard attract a variety of Birds. All Squirrels have been named, ‘Samwise’ and they entertain with their aerial antics to climb the pole and feast. I don’t bother with feeders designed to keep them out or ‘baffle’ them with devices that serve only to make them more creative. Like all living things, they need to eat. They too, have lost their instinctive fear of this human and never go too far when I approach. Instead, they jump to nearby ‘Evelyn’, my white flowering crab tree, and meld with the branches in an attempt to appear as if they are not separate entities. Sometimes, flicking their bushy gray tails, they excitedly scamper about as I replenish the feeders with their favorite black oil sunflower seeds and shelled peanuts.

In the Summer they are joined by Chipmunks, all named ‘Alvin’, and Thirteen Striped Ground Squirrels, all named ‘Rocky’. My tiny charcoal gray Shrews, aptly named ‘Taylor’ in honor of the performance given by Elizabeth Taylor in her role in the movie, “The Taming of the Shrew”, often dart in and out of tunnels to clean up the fallen seed at the base of the pole. However, at this time in late November, they are all hidden beneath the snow in their carefully constructed burrows of frozen earth. For now, they are safe.

The Rabbits, each sharing the name of ‘Violet’, come to feed mostly at night, their black silhouettes beneath the pole appear motionless except for the swivel of long ears that serve as their radar. From time to time they will sense my presence as I watch them through the window and will sit up on their hind legs, sniffing the air. Even if they see me, they soon go back to searching for the unopened seeds that fell from the trays above. This year, I put out small bunches of dried grasses that I found in the pet store, sold for tame Rabbits. I’m hoping this will supplement their diet with greens that lay hidden beneath increasing measures of glistening snow. Not only will it make finding a ‘salad’ easier for them, it might also help preserve some of my plants that they uncover and munch on.

As much as I feel the loss of the wild things that respond to my dinner invitation, I know that I am also providing a place of ‘easy pickins’ for raptors such as this Hawk that now uses my arbor to his advantage. It’s the circle of things. Prey and predators, just as the Great Mother has planned it, all to create a balance. It’s only when humans feel the need to intervene that things go terribly awry. With their high powered rifles and clothes to ‘blend in’, they try to justify their thirst to kill something that they have deemed to be inferior. It’s not driven by the need to survive in the wild like this Coopers Hawk, who has the decency to appear in the open, visible to it’s quarry.

The argument of keeping the threat of over population in check fails miserably. Nature does that too. By allowing Her in Her infinite wisdom to prevail, the chain remains unbroken. But, soon the ignorant rule and the vigilantes go out and kill the natural predators that take down the sick, the old, and those that weaken the herds and flocks. Diseases are born of the desire to take the ‘trophies’.  As for the need for meat, how much is that per pound by the time one adds up the cost of the weapons, the ammunition, special clothes and gadgets? Then, there is the lodging for those urbanites who travel to the wild areas, the food and of course copious amounts of alcohol that are consumed. Is it a case of accidental deaths when hunters shoot each other or the otherwise sedentary die of heart attacks? Maybe it’s just Nature’s way of ‘thinning the herd’.

If they want to hunt as a ‘sport’, do so as it should be defined. A contest or game of skill between two equally armed opponents. Toss down the gun, chase your prey down on foot, and wrestle it to the ground. You win.

The loss of life that has taken place in my yard is evident by the occasional clumps of fur and feathers and blood spatters in the snow that prove that Beckwith has had a successful hunt. I’d rather that he not take advantage of the situation that arises as a result of my desire to give back to Nature by feeding and sheltering some of Her children. I tell him often, as I am telling him now, “not here, Beckwith”.  He honors my request and flies off the arbor to hunt in the fields. However, he would not be who he is if he didn’t search for an easy meal when his efforts in the wide open spaces have been fruitless. He would not risk his own life by venturing from the places that he feels safe and protected from this urban sprawl.

The strong, wary Birds will escape. The young, fast Rabbits will outrun him and the agile, cleaver Squirrels will hide with ease. They will survive as he will survive and the delicate balance will not be tipped by contrived and convoluted methods and notions of the folly of battling Nature. This is a game of skill that humans cannot win.

The Purpose Of Significance

Along the road that leads into the company parking lot, there is a small wooded area. As I passed it on my way home from work tonight, a small gray squirrel ran out in front of me. I applied the brakes and the squirrel ran back to safety and scampered off into the newly leafed out trees. On the drive home, I contemplated this and the aspect that if it had been someone less conscientious behind the wheel or perhaps someone too preoccupied to notice, the squirrel may have been killed. That may not seem significant to some people, but it was to me and it certainly was to the squirrel.

If I was someone who believed in that seemingly strange occurrence that has been known for years as ‘coincidence’ I would say that I spent a large part of my day contemplating it. Left to my own devices, to enter data while listening to audio books, I have more than enough time to get into my head. I delve deeper into subjects such as quantum physics, neuroscience and a good bit of psychology as well as reams of books on metaphysics and spirituality. I had been listening to a book by Mike Dooley the other day regarding manifesting and how a fraction of a degree of separation can make a major difference in how things turn out.

I am a big believer in the concept of alignment and try to stay mindful of this, especially when something is aggravating or inconvenient. It becomes all too easy to forget that we are exactly where we need to be when we need to be there in order to put us in alignment with our destiny so having this play out with the squirrel in a way that made me particularly conscious of it was well…quite a coincidence.

In the 20 minutes it took me to get home I made it a point to be aware of as much as I could without having my awareness fall short of the car in front of me. The sky always draws my eye as I pan for birds as well as the side of the road where small animals can be spotted. Planes descend as they near the airport, other drivers coming and going, the sway of the trees. I purposefully took notice of as much as I could, taking into account that everything is significant.

There may be a tendency to place more importance on some things and less on others, but they all play a part in this journey. Everything from people we connect with in passing who later become those who are instrumental in our lives to the delays that annoyed us, but kept us out of harm’s way. Is there really anything that we can afford to downplay? I always say, if we notice something, it’s significant.

The times I’ve been prompted to pick up a leaf or look to the sky and see one of my Nature guides fulfilling its role as an omen, find their way into the pages of my collection of journals because they are noteworthy. Even as I sit here typing, my cat, Hmandu curled up in the crook of my arm fills me with a need to sense the experience fully.

Notice all that you can, for all things are significant. Find joy in the knowing that you are among those things. Live intentionally, mindful of your purpose and discount nothing.

Sprig Has Cub

And none too soon. This has been a wicked Winter indeed. I don’t recall any in the past that have been so incredibly cold. My desire to get out with my cross country skis was not realized, but we may get another round of snow before it’s all over.

This past Friday, I remarked to my husband that the Red Winged Blackbird would make an appearance soon. I can always ‘feel’ when Nature’s omens are on hand to send their messages. Saturday morning found me near the window overlooking the front yard sipping a vat of orange vanilla coffee when I sensed his presence. Pulling the curtain aside, I saw him. He clung to the peanut feeder and seemed to have a sense of familiarity as though he knew that he was home. Every year, the one I named Bartholomew, accompanies me as I garden. Never showing any fear, he follows me around the yard and sits in the tree nearest to me and holds his own in our running conversation. The sight of him had me laughing out loud, “damn, I’m good”, I declared. The Craft has a way of deepening one’s connection with Nature so that even in an urban setting, every nuance is sensed and always inspires a knowing smile.

This is a time of rebirth for all of us, and my journal pages abound with goals, aspirations and sacred oaths to fulfill as the Wheel of the Year takes another turn. Fertility symbols adorn my alter and chocolate truffle eggs fill crystal bowls in every room. Seeds will be ritually planted in new Earth and tiny sprouts coddled until they can be transplanted in the garden. Misty mornings will call to me and I have no choice but to go where they hold court. It’s in the mist that the portals can be found.

My heartfelt blessings go out to all of you as candles are lit and incense smolders. Sharing my thoughts as they transform into words is a privilege that becomes even more beautiful when given the honor of having you read them. For this I am grateful.

Welcome Spring.

The ‘Show Me State’

If only we ask, we will receive. On the way home from work last night something weighed heavily on my mind. The Crow is one of my Nature Guides, therefore, the sighting of one when requested is a sign that I ask for when I need direction. Putting myself in the state of mind that was needed to allow the message to transcend any preconceived idea that I may have had, I became open to what I had requested.

There she was. One Crow on a wire.
This is a solitary quest. I know, I see.