When the huge pine tree in our front yard came crashing down during the hurricane, it disrupted a lot of lives. “Piney”, as my husband referred to it, was home to many birds and squirrels over the seventy years that it stood magnificently as a landmark in front of our home. I remember when my mother rescued a baby bird from Siete’s stall, and wearing her soft white gloves, carefully placed it on the broad boughs of “Piney”. The little bird’s mother appeared a few moments later to sit in the tree with her baby. My mom always gathered leftover bread and potato chips and sprinkled it under the tree, especially in the snow. We always teased her about it. After she moved to the nursing home, I surprised myself by keeping up with the ritual, tromping across the yard to scatter stale crumbs and Fritos so the cardinals and squirrels would have some treats. Now, there’s only a big circle of dirt that marks the footprint of our popular “bird hotel”.
As we cut up the tree and dragged the branches away to be shredded, I found this tiny nest on the ground. It is made entirely of horsehair, with one turquoise thread from the string that tied a hay bale. I brought it in the house to add to my nest collection, and my neighbor told me that she believed it was made by a hummingbird. It got me thinking about giving some much needed attention to my own nest. Since I injured my arm in June, I have not been able to do much housekeeping and as winter approaches, I’ve decided that it’s time to thoroughly wash, dust, clean and de-clutter our nest. I think that it will help me welcome in the holidays, which are bearing down on us with all the force of another hurricane.
The one resident in our yard who is really happy that the big tree is gone is the skunk. Almost every morning, when Stella and I get up in the dark and go outside, Ms. Skunk is right there in the dirt, enjoying a feast of grubs. So far, thanks to a serious flashlight that floods the yard, I’ve been able to stop dead in my tracks and hold on tight to the dog on her flexi-leash. The skunk just kind of glances up, “oh, hello, it’s you”, and then ambles off to the safety of the forsythia bush. My heart pounds, and Stella bounces wildly until the coast is clear.
I looked up the meaning of a skunk entering your life in Ted Andrews’ “AnimalSpeak” book. He says that the skunk is a sign that you should demand respect in your life and be assertive. He also points out that even though skunks might have rabies and can eat a cat, they are basically peaceful creatures. I thought about getting a Havaheart trap and trying to relocate Ms. Skunk to the woods on the other side of the pond, but it turns out that it’s illegal in this state to trap a skunk because of the rabies danger. I found a recipe for spraying detergent and castor oil, which skunks are supposed to find distasteful, and I will annoint the ground where Piney rested and the grubs live. For now, I’m inclined to live and let live, and hopefully, Stella won’t get sprayed.
This week, I went to the doctor, expecting to have a battle over whether he wanted to operate or manipulate my right elbow some more. I thought about the skunk and respecting my wishes as I waited in his examining room. Amazingly, he was very pleased with my progress and felt that I had “turned the corner”. So, he sees almost full recovery in my future as long as I continue to use my splints and do my exercises. When I saw the skunk this morning, I thanked her from a distance for helping me keep my resolve. Now, I’m going to turn my attention to decorating and feathering our nest.