I had a vague memory that I’d already written about our flora and fauna this year and realized I’d asked “Has spring sprung?” in a February column. Perhaps those early signs of spring were an indicator of the hot summer to come. Unlike us, the creatures that populate our personal nature preserve seem unfazed by the heat and humidity.

Every morning, the birds provide a show on our deck adjacent to the screened porch where my husband and I start the day. There, we’re joined by the cat and the dog. The first guests are the Carolina Wrens who visit their nest between our chimney and the screen. I know when the cat’s in the corner watching them because their chirps change from sweet tweets to hissing screeches. It’s always a standoff, Puddin’ imitating a statue and the birds raising a racket. 

Next, the hummingbirds flit back and forth between the feeder and the tall trees in the backyard. Occasionally, before the heat gets to be too much, we may see a deer or two wander by, but they save their best show for the evenings.

As the day progresses, the entertainment shifts to the side porch off the kitchen. The hummingbirds visit the feeder out there too, and the cardinals and wrens fly in and out of the azalea bushes. When the gardeners trimmed the azaleas a few months back, they revealed a perfectly formed bird’s nest in one bush, perhaps a cardinal nest.

It’s most often from the kitchen window that we see the neighborhood hawk. He perches on a tree branch in plain sight, and on occasion, lands on the porch railing. This year, my husband watched him land on the grass strip on the side of the driveway, where he seemed to take exception to the soaker hose. He’d peck at it, fly off, and return to resume his vicious attack. Did he think it was a snake? 

After dinner, the show moves to the yard on the other side of the house. The large windows on either side of the television are perfect for viewing the deer head toward the river. Our home isn’t on the river, but the homes one street over are. We think of the evening parade as deer rush hour. Sometimes we see a herd and sometimes it’s only three to four. We were surprised one night to see three buck jog by in single file, their felted antlers on display. 

Though I’ve read that buck are solitary creatures, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen them in a group.  For a week or so one summer, a pair bedded down in the woods not far from our porch. 

Through those same windows, I can watch the squirrels’ comical attempts to attack the bird feeder. Thankfully, since my husband put a slinky on the pole that holds the feeder, they’re mostly unsuccessful. That means I can watch the woodpecker, the cardinals, the chickadees and more eat dinner. 

The sight that was a first for me this year? Two coyotes crossing the street in front of our house. I wanted to think the first one was a dog, but seeing the second one close on its heels and something about the way they moved told me these creatures were no dogs.

We haven’t yet seen a bear, but with reports of one being hit on Peachtree Parkway, I can’t help but wonder when we might see a new creature in our personal nature preserve.

Kathy is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her books, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” and “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday,” at the Enchanted Forest and on Amazon. Contact her at inkpenn119@gmail.com, follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/KathyManosPennAuthor/, and/or read her blogs at https://theinkpenn.blogspot.com


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