At My Feet – A Poem by Sylvia

at my feet

in a postage stamp yard
behind a small bungalow
i have the world at my feet
“my world”…
of speckled starlings and common house sparrows…
Carolina wrens and cardinals…
chipmunks who scurry about
beneath the fern fronds and boxwood…
and families of gray squirrels
who travel the branching highways
of the mighty oaks…

this is my world
among my animal friends
who come to me
like I’m Snow White…
and I to them
like they’re nature’s counselors…

and they are…
gathering at their feeders
and eating peanuts
at my feet

Sylvia L. Mattingly
September 8, 2019

Photos by Pixabay

Bird Food for All

Bird Food Thieves

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Squirrel
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Chipmunk

Feed them and they will come!

Recently I was joking about how much it costs to keep my five bird feeders supplied. I told my kids that the bird food bill was more than for my groceries. Well, on my birthday the family presented me with about 70# of different kinds of birdfeed! What a great gift. There was even a bag of peanuts for the sneaky rodents who drop by regularly! 

“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”                          David Attenborough

 

 

Bird Photos by Pixabay

First Snow

Poem by Sylvia Mattingly – January 10, 2016

a first kiss of snow

with a first kiss of snow on a january day 

perhaps winter at last has something to say

after patiently biding its time to alight

it has covered the earth with a blanket of white

 

it is not as though winter has come without warning

the animals sensed it on yesterday’s morning

with instinctual nature that leads them to know

when to gather and store for the coming of snow

 

as the whitetail deer hungrily forage on grass

the squirrels in my yard bury acorns en masse

and i watch them and learn from their God given ways

that teach me to ready for the hardest of days

 

now that winter has come in a vision of white

and has hung up its coat in the dark depths of night

we can rest in the peace that the snow comes with reason

and trust without doubt that we need this cold season

 

eventually the coldness of winter will wane

and the passing of time will ensure the spring rain

but for now we must live with a sky full of gray

and a first kiss of snow on a january day

 

“A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder.” Susan Orlean

To Shoot or Not

Shooting

The topic of guns can bring out very strong feelings. I have strong feelings about the issue at the same time that I support the Second Amendment in the way I believe it was intended. That, however, is not the purpose of this post, since I pledged to not write about political topics and I believe “to have or not have guns” enters that realm.

I want to tell you about the two times that I shot something and about how very sorry I am when I recall each instance. I wonder how many of you watch Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show.” He has a frequent segment where he goes into a confessional box and confesses to the audience things he “feels bad about.” I suppose that is what I am doing today.

Hunting

As I was growing up my father, as well as probably every male we knew, had guns. They were long guns used for hunting, usually for food. My Dad hunted, not so much because he enjoyed it, but to provide needed meat for the table. We had rabbit frequently and I remember as a child crying and not wanting to eat it. I especially detested the milk gravy that Mom made after frying the poor bunny. I protested that it tasted “fuzzy,” to no avail. I was made to eat it. We occasionally had a squirrel and once, even a goat, but that’s another story.

Long guns were also a part of our home after I married. I was very relieved when my husband gave up hunting after he realized he would much rather observe nature than to shoot it. It was his decision gradually made over time at about mid-life. I remember the one and only time he went deer hunting. He came home soaking wet after spending a few hours in a tree in the pouring rain. He did see a deer, the doe came right under his tree stand and stood peacefully as he admired her until she trotted off. He loved to tell about that one day of deer hunting. His guns were displayed on a rack in the den for years and once in a while he would take them down and clean them. Those guns remain today.

My First Kill

As a young teen, I learned to shoot a 22 rifle. I loved the challenge of holding the gun steady and aligning up the little bead thingy on the end with the target. I shot cans with my older brother and my future husband and loved to show off my girl skill. One day I was at home alone on the farm my Dad had bought when I was about 14 or 15. We often saw snakes around and especially in an old tree growing in the yard fence line. It gave me the creeps to know they were hanging around up there. On the ground, I felt we had a fighting chance of not being bothered, but I always had the feeling they were going to intentionally drop on top of me from above. On this particular day, I spotted a very big, long snake on the yard fence. He was wrapped around the wire with his head hanging down and without any hesitation, I went into the house and grabbed Dad’s rifle. I walked out into the yard, sighted carefully and shot that poor snake in the head. At the time I felt pretty good about ridding the yard of this snake. Looking back years later, I felt nothing but disgust that I could so easily kill an innocent creature that was not bothering me at all. I never aimed at a living thing again and in fact soon lost interest in my skill with the rifle.

My Second Kill

There was one other incident with a gun that I regret almost as much but for different reasons. I was older and married at the time. It was winter and while the men had been out hunting, I had been playing in the snow with my younger brother. When the guys came back and started to put away the guns I realized that I had never shot a shotgun. I really didn’t know anything about them, but for some unknown reason I felt it necessary to experience shooting one, so I asked my husband to show me how. He carefully explained that unlike rifles, shotguns “kick” but I don’t think I knew what that meant. After repeatedly explaining that I had to hold the “butt” tightly against my shoulder because of the kick, I said, “Yeah, I got it” and looked around for a safe target. I aimed, I held the stock tightly against my shoulder, I pulled the trigger. Once I was able to open my eyes after the blinding pain from the gunstock recoiling, a.k.a. kicking, against my shoulder like a wild stallion I looked at my target. The poor snowman I had aimed at was full of round holes and looked back at me with dead eyes of coal. Again, I had shot an innocent and that was the last time I fired any kind of gun.

 

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