Monday, October 3, 2011

When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go

It was a hard decision, but today I let Tom-Boy go. You can only domesticate a cat so far and this kitty just wasn't going to ever be good at being a house cat. A bad case of the whiz-bangs did him in. Well actually it did my furniture in! It seems some creatures never lose their wild and maybe that's a good thing.
So here I sit outside on my porch in the lovely October sunshine searching the terrain for a glimpse of orange and white, but he is nowhere to be found. What did I think? I hoped he would sniff around in the garden and settle down in the dust at the base of the bushes, here on his own territory. But he has fully disappeared. Off on an adventure that has been denied him for more than a year.

Tom-Boy-and-Pee-Wee-in-gardAt 14, I wonder how he will do now, back with the younger neighborhood cats, and the dogs cooped up in yards, just waiting for a tasty morsel of cat. And will he reign terror on the yard birds, snagging them from their perches on neighborhood feeders? No, no that was not my intent!

Veterinarians tell you that it is far better to keep cats indoors. They frown at you when you tell them, "Puss is an indoor/outdoor cat." Oh, they smile widely when the answer is, "He's an indoor cat." But even vets won't tolerate a whiz-bang kitty. The resident cat at the clinic used to dwell indoors at the vet's home, but was sent to confinement at the clinic for his whiz-bang ways. Even there, he has to endure a daily dose of kitty Prozac so he won't anoint that pristine environment.Tom-Boy-Sleeping-on-Couch

I tried the kitty Prozac. It's liquid and it's flavored. You can choose chicken, beef or tuna flavor. That must not do much for it because Tom-Boy made definitely sure that I understood that it was terrible and there was no way he was going to have that stuff shot down his gullet. Out of eight tries he only got one and a half doses actually into him. Most of it flew all over the furniture, the floor, and me. At nearly $50 a clip for a month's supply, it was clearly not going to be cost effective!

So Tom-Boy is back in the wild. Free to roam, free to explore, free to find available kitty bowls wherever he may wander. And should he show up back at the front door, I'll be happy to see him again. He can enjoy a nice bowl on the porch and snuggle into the bed in the plastic storage container there, protected from the wind, and the elements that are now, once again, to be part of his life. Happy trails, Tom-Boy. When you gotta go, you gotta go!

Colorful Flyers

The first of October and there they are, right on schedule. They flitter and flutter, lighting here and there, searching for something. One thing can be said for them, they are stunning. Their colors stand out against a rather bland world that has had the life and moisture sucked out of it all summer. Even the coastal fog wasn't enough to keep the grass green. The bushes endure, the flowers survive, but none sport the intensity of hue that these welcome visitors bring to us.
The Monarchs have returned.Monarch-Butterflies-2008

You wonder as you look at them if their base color is black and the brilliant orange is laid on top of it? Or is it the orange that covers the flitting wings and the black lines are painted over it in different patterns? And are these lines the same on each or do they sport their own unique markings? We know the color is important, sending a definite signal to any who would have the audacity to try and gobble them up. "I taste BAD!" it says. Somehow most birds know this. The ones who don't, soon find out.

Monarch-Butterflies-on-eucaToday they fly from plant to plant and tree to tree with vigor. They glow and shine and whirl around each other. Courtship? Yes, I think so. What will this lead to? Sometime in months to come, somewhere else far away, eggs will be laid, and eventually a chubby, squiggly, wormy, many-legged critter with a voracious appetite will emerge. It too is colorful, bright yellow and black. It too carries the same message that its parents did. "Don't eat me! I am NOT tasty."

And then the day comes and everything changes for the youngsters. They crawl away into their own spin and sleep. Time passes. On a bright sunny day they wriggle free, flex their orange and black wings, and take off on their epic journey.
On a crisp October morning, we glance out the kitchen window and an orange flash is spotted and there they are, right on time. The Monarchs have returned.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Where Are The Blackbirds?

Brewer's-Blackbirds-on-draiThey're overdue. The blackbirds. Usually by this time the telephone wires are full of them. Perhaps it's the weather that has them delayed. It certainly hasn't been normal. Always foggy, actually dripping with fog. And maybe the birds don't realize what season it is. It's fall, you're supposed to be flocking together.

Blackbird-7Spring finds red-wing blackbirds nesting in the tules near fresh or brackish water. They screech and scream at each other, trying for the best spots to build their temporary homes and raise their brood. Brewer's blackbirds are busy with the same endeavor and spend some time dancing over the farm fields, picking up tasty morsels of bugs and beetles to stuff into the gaping mouths of their fluffy offspring. Finally the days start getting shorter and all the baby birds have fledged. All those territorial squabbles are over. It's time to gather together to swing and sway through small towns and neighborhoods, gathering by the hundreds on the telephone and electric wires. Their dense, black bodies stand out starkly against the slate sky.
A murder of crows descend upon the neighborhood.
Today the crows came noisily winging up the road. Fifteen to twenty of them in a solid group, they settle for a time in the cypress tree at the foot of the road. Then two by two and one by one they drop to the ground and begin pecking away. In a flash ten of them flap from the tree to wires above. Caw, caw, they call and call. Some take to wing and head up the road. The crowd follows swiftly calling as they go. Again most settle on the wires while six or eight drop to the neighbor's lawn where bits of old bread are spread out. Zippo! And the bread is gone. Caw,Caw! They're on the wing again still advancing up the road until they are out of sight and all is quiet

Were the crows the advance troops? Are the blackbirds close behind? Maybe tomorrow.