Creatures at my Door
I woke early
I woke early, as usual, this morning. It has become habit first to feed a handful of stray cats that prowl hungrily near my door while it is still dark. I live in an apartment complex in a city that does not care too well for its animals. The biggest problem is that either through ignorance or poverty or both, people do not fix their animals, not to mention a lack of rabies and other shots. These strays are so thankful to be fed in their daily struggle for survival. Oscar is a young male that really needs to be neutered, but I don’t have the wherewithal to do so. Following the death of my husband six years ago, I went back to school, completed my course of study with flying colors, tucked my credentials under my belt, and began searching for a job. Many months later, still looking, I find that I am unable to help many of these animals that so badly need it and which are proliferating before my very eyes.
Zorro gets an Oscar...
Oscar has beautiful olive and gray coloring, a large head, green eyes and an O marking each flank. Then there is Zorro! This white cat has markings resembling a black mask over his eyes and a black cape over face and shoulders and a black tail. He is extremely nervous about anyone approaching him, and the other cats are very aggressive toward him, so he often slinks under nearby bushes and will eat silently and unobtrusively as fast as he can and then disappear before he gets picked on. If the timing is right, he will appear silently at my kitchen door whilst the other cats are at the front door. I never fail to give him food, although he shrinks away from me when I put the bowl down. Yet another newcomer, also male, is white with orange patches. I’ve named him Peaches. He craves affection and is very verbal about it, while trotting after me like a puppy dog when he sees or hears me. It amazes me how he is even aware of me when I walk silently to my car on my way out of the garage. He slides out from under a nearby fence and trots over to me with head held high, eyes bright and friendly (when he hasn’t been in a fight) and tail held high, like a white flag. He oozes his way under my hands and around my legs for the affection he craves when I stoop to fill a bowl (I keep a stash in the trunk of my car!)
Peaches peeks out
Cats want IN
These cats would all LOVE to get in to my apartment, but most of all, Oscar. The interesting thing about observing these strays, is that now that they are being fed, they are far less aggressive with one another. I stay close nearby to discourage fighting and they respond wonderfully to the situation. Once they have a steady supply of food, there is less need for scrapping! A new neighbor across the way leaves her cat outside for long periods of time. I observed the cat meowing pitifully at her door the other evening. The door did not open. He is an orange cat called Oliver and seems pretty grouchy. I guess I would be grouchy too if my owner left me outside to fend off other tomcats and ignore me for hours as I plead to come in out of the heat. Oliver makes his way to my door to scarf down some food when he finds it, hissing at the other cats and hissing at me as I lean down to stroke him.
Precious and Misty thankful for a feeding
Possums are NOT rats
The cats are not the only nocturnal prowlers that come by. I happened to come downstairs at around 3 a.m. one night and heard an animal eating at the bowl outside the front door. I peeked through the vertical blinds and startled an opossum. It was almost as big as a cat. For those of you who don’t know about these mammals, they are extremely strange to look at. They have a tail like a rat, a long snout filled with lots of sharp teeth, and a big body with slow plodding kinds of movements, however, they are not vicious. This animal is America’s sole marsupial. When threatened, they roll over, play dead and emit a smell like a rotting carcass to deter any potential predator from eating them. While people think that they are vicious and evil because they are ugly, they are, in fact, a gardener’s helper. They eat bugs and rotting vegetation and thereby clean up the garden. The possum was startled to see me through the window and scurried away into the bushes. It had been holding the cat’s bowl with its little hands and lapping up each last crumb. Previously, I had seen it lapping at the water which I provide for these thirsting creatures!
For the birds
Dawn. Once the cats were fed and the feeders at my front door were replenished with seeds, I turned my attention to the kitchen. I checked the hummingbird feeders outside. The hummers were already busy and it had just become light. I was determined to get pictures of these fairy-like birds while I had the opportunity. I fetched my camera and began to take pictures. As dawn turned to day, the hummer activity increased. I decided to put up another feeder. I made fresh nectar and three feeders hung invitingly. I decided to clean my kitchen windows so that I could have breakfast whilst watching my feisty friends. I spent a good three hours in the kitchen and was totally absorbed and delighted with the chirruping, whirring and body slamming of these incredible tiny birds as they rose up and up and swooped, circling, stopping in midair, dodging one another around leaves and branches, and zooming in to perch warily at the feeder and lick, lick, lick as fast as they could before they were chased away by another. On and on the aerial dancing went. Darting and dodging, rising and falling, clasped as in combat and swirling away only to part and alight at a feeder for increased sustenance.
I was buzzed
The day wore on and the chittering increased. I stood amongst these ruby red-throated hummers, quietly aiming my camera and clicking as fast as I could, trying to hold my hands steady in midair. The birds flew around me and over my head. I even felt the squirt of one of the diminutive creatures as it zoomed over my head, as if to say, “Beat it, this is MY territory!” I had been buzzed! I turned my camera on to video. Before long, the disk was full. I ran upstairs to download the images to my computer and erase those on the camera so I could film some more. I did this a number of times. I do not have a powerful lens to get up close to the birds so I just had to make do as best I could. I also took pictures from my bedroom window upstairs. By this time, I had strewn seeds on the pathway. To my delight, a squirrel was attracted by the noise and I am sure, could smell the food nearby. That squirrel pounced immediately on the sunflower seeds and nibbled away in delight. By this time, a few neighbors passed by on the path. The squirrel dashed for safety. When all was clear, the squirrel jumped onto the wall to survey the scene, hopped onto the birdbath for a drink of clean water, then back down to the path for more nutrition. I was in my element filming from upstairs.
Hummingbirds vie for their spot at the feeder during the Fall migration
Rockport hummingbird festival at my door
Before I realized that it was almost noon, I had refilled two of the feeders. This was a first for me. The birds were swarming them, to my absolute joy and delight. I had heard that there was a Hummingbird festival in Rockport, an hour’s drive from Corpus Christi. I did not have to make the drive. The hummingbirds came over to my place and graced me with their presence all morning. The festival was all mine! The trees were alive with hummingbirds and I swear I could see the tree outside my kitchen window smiling!
Around 1:30, I realized as I drove to the airport to pick up some friends, that I had lost myself during the entire morning’s activity. I had stopped feeling the heartache of friendships gone sour. I had lost myself in the enchantment of the morning, as I had been totally and completely immersed and absorbed. This realization filled me with hope and uplifted me. My friends were hungry and so was I… after waiting for one last suitcase, off we went and they treated me to lunch. The food was good and the company was better. I realized that the time had come for me to get in touch with my creativity which has been squelched for so long because of all the studying I had been doing, and the stress I had endured. Engaging in fulfilling activity had made the anguish disappear.
Squirrel gets a piece of the action
Nature is the ultimate Healer
After returning home, I filled one more feeder. It was late afternoon and the birds were still swarming to the food. It filled my heart with pleasure. As dusk approached, I came back upstairs to attend to my computer. The bedroom blinds were now closed and I noticed a rosy glow behind them. I went to the window and to my complete delight, saw a rainbow. Once more, I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures. This was a perfect end to a day filled with delight. Thank You, God, I am SO grateful.
As I read the words I have just written, a thought popped into my head. When I was a little girl, my favorite movie was Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.” The scenes I loved best were those of Aurora dancing in the forest with all the forest creatures. Although I was not dancing and singing on the outside, I most certainly was dancing and singing on the inside. Nature is the ultimate healer.