Natural Wonder for a Once-Entrenched City Woman
I believe in the wonder of nature.
The last few years, in our suburban neighborhood just outside of Philadelphia, have been filled with natural wonder. Birds, rabbits, woodchucks, squirrels, and chipmunks have changed my life. Although we live just 20 minutes away from Center City, I’ve traveled far from my condo beat more than 10 years ago.
When we first considered purchasing our house, I saw a hefty woodchuck lumbering through a neighbor’s backyard. “What’s that?” I shrieked.
We recently discovered the tunnel that the mother woodchuck has burrowed across our entire backyard. After snacking on anything green—along with our carefully planted seeds and flowers—her family scurries back underground, with their furry behinds squeezing back into the earth.
“Well, they lived here before we did,” says the Nature Boy I’ve lived with for 14 years. After growing up near Michigan lakes, demonstrated by splaying open five fingers, he continues to experience Nirvana during annual fishing trips in isolated corners of Canada.
So when we discovered a quivering baby rabbit huddled in a well near our dryer vent, my Nature Boy jumped to the rescue. Still wearing his suit, he popped into the well unhesitatingly after returning from a long, hot day.
Several weeks later, walking home on a busy road, I found a distressed baby bird chirping loudly by the curb. Later that night, the mother still had not rescued her baby, so we transported it to a local wildlife rehabilitation center in a cushioned carrier. The bird was severely dehydrated; with a special formula, the center eventually nursed it back to health—and freedom.
Soon after, we created a bird-platform feeder in our backyard and filled it with seed each morning. But no one showed up for the party.
A week went by and then two. Every morning, we watched from the glass door in our kitchen with disappointment.
A local wild bird center provided some tips and especially enticing seed. Now, we have a “busy airport, with frequent take-offs and landings,” my Nature Boy says.
Throughout the day, we have free entertainment. From early morning until late at night, black birds, morning doves, finches, and woodpeckers all flock to share the same space. Wings flutter as they lightly spring from nearby branches.
Away from deadlines, suits, and Center City hubbub, we relax in our “little forest.” Transformed into bird watchers, we learn more every day—hanging a ball of cotton for nest building near our new birdhouses, a hummingbird feeder with a mixture of sugar and water, and red salvia flowers to attract their attention.
As we dry dishes and sweep the kitchen floors, we wait and watch with hope. Sometimes, I’m so distracted by bird watching that I stand transfixed — losing track of time, projects, and chores.
For a once-entrenched city woman, nature is full of wonder, simplicity — and pure delight.
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