(The image above is but one small aspect of the story to follow, but try if you will to let your mind fill the rest of the picture. And if it does, I dare you not to smile!)
As I lay in half slumber this morning, not yet fully awake yet no longer asleep, I became aware of an angry droning sound originating just outside the bedroom window. As my mind slowly focused, it appeared that a swarm of hornets had somehow settled upon the front porch – and my curiosity was such that it was enough to draw me from the warm bed toward the cool air of early morning flowing through the window.
I slowly crept forward and crouched low before the bow window so as not to disturb whatever was making such a racket. Upon first glance, there was nothing particularly out of the ordinary. There were three tiny, immature brown birds with the general shape and beak configuration of nuthatches sitting in the burning bush just outside the window and a pair of titmice nearby – yet the noise continued unabated.
But as I watched, those three tiny birds began to busily hop from branch to ground to porch to brick arch and back again – mouths wide open as they moved in rapid and apparently random fashion. And from this trio of less-than-fist-sized wonders all of that noise was originating.
I watched in fascination as they fluttered and bounced from perch to perch, uttering their most unpleasant cries continually. What their mission was I can only imagine, but it seemed that their cacophonous ruckus had woken more than just me. For as I looked, it appeared that all of nature had suddenly descended upon my vista:
A chipmunk jumped upon the woodpile and began loudly proclaiming himself its king as he perched upon hind legs and began the continuous clucking sound that requires such force that it shakes his entire small frame with each outburst. In the woods to the right, I could see two squirrels chasing each other noisily and effortlessly as they zipped from branch to branch and tree to tree. Further in the distance, the red-tailed hawk’s piercing cry echoed over the treetops.
There were silent visitors as well. As the eye became more keen and the clutter of life dropped away and allowed the eye to truly see, the lazy path of the bumblebee came into sharp focus. To its left, a butterfly gracefully fluttered from marigold to marigold – resting and preening for a moment and gathering the morning sun upon her wide-spread wings before moving further into the yard. A flash of bright green zipped by and then materialized as a hummingbird, hovering as if frozen in time by the feeder – and then gone again in an instant. And below the feeder, the tiny toad who lives in the impatiens bed crept back to the safety of his home.
And then, in what seemed the blink of an eye, there was silence - and all the activity, all the commotion, all the glorious clatter was gone. There was no movement save for the lazy dance of the leaves in a gentle breeze, no sound but the low rumble of cars from the road behind the house, and an occasional solitary cry from a distant chickadee.
The show had packed its tent and moved on – but it would be back, in endlessly changing configurations. And what a show it had been.