Sunday, April 4, 2010
In the presence of animals
After posting that beautiful Levertov poem, I went walking in the woods Easter morning and encountered some less spiritual wildlife. It was clear and sunny, and couple of days of warm weather have the redbuds blooming. A cardinal was singing his heart out somewhere. I was just thinking how perfectly beautiful it was when I heard a scrabbling sound followed by ferocious snarling. I looked around for the source and discovered it about 10 feet up the trunk of a tree. It took me a second to figure out that I was looking at the rear end of a weasel, pushing his way into a cavity that looked much too small for him. Judging from the contortions of the weasel, his snarling, and the pitiful cries coming from inside the tree, I'd say he was making breakfast out of a chipmunk, or possibly a nesting squirrel. Whatever it was it put up a pretty good fight, but the weasel won. He somehow got his whole bulk into the tree and shortly thereafter the cries stopped. He growled a bit more and then fell silent, too. Busy eating, I assume.
The rest of my hike was serene. As I approached the lake two great blue herons took off toward the rising sun, casting their shadows behind them. A pair of Canada geese flew low over the water in the opposite direction, murmuring to each other in that perfect harmony they have. I came upon a flicker and a pileated woodpecker that were perched on adjoining tree stumps, apparently enjoying each other's company until the woodpecker answered her calling mate and left to join him on the other side of the lake.
Weasel with chaffinch, Bruno Liljefors, 1888